In recent years, travel coverage of San Antonio has looked backward. In 2018, the city celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding, and in 2015, its historic missions were recognized as a unesco World Heritage Site. But for connoisseurs of art and culture, San Antonio has never been as exciting as it is right now. We asked painter and printmaker Cruz Ortiz—known for his stylized portraits of Mexican-American hipsters, lush South Texas landscapes, and logos for former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro’s presidential campaign—to share some of the city’s cultural highlights.
Designed by British starchitect David Adjaye, this hotly anticipated museum opens October 13th after a decade of development. The building, which pays homage to San Antonio’s Spanish missions with its facade of red concrete and glass, will host the contemporary art collection of late salsa heiress Linda Pace, whose 900 pieces include works by Ortiz and Maya Lin. “She understood her position as a steward, of really giving back and investing in a community,” Ortiz says of Pace, who based an initial sketch for the museum on a dream she had about a walled city of pink, red, and purple towers tipped with jewels. “It’s giving San Antonio another opportunity to participate in contemporary art on a global level.”
This annual multimedia arts and light festival, which takes place November 9th and 10th, always features a range of experimental performances, from a contemporary take on flamenco to immersive opera. This year, the event will take over Hemisfair Park, the site of the 1968 World’s Fair—a seminal scene for national awareness of Latino-American culture, according to Ortiz. That spirit lives on in this 11-year-old festival, which showcases work by more than 50 artists, primarily from San Antonio and Texas. “It’s about trying to get people to come, check out what’s going on, and re-understand what ‘urban’ means, in this day and age,” Ortiz says.
Mission Reach At The River Walk
This eight-mile addition to the San Antonio River Walk, completed in 2013, extended scenic bike paths to four of the city’s five unesco historic missions, restored the woodland ecosystem, and created space for bold new works of public art, like Margarita Cabrera’s massive Árbol de la Vida (Tree of Life) sculpture. Through works like Cabrera’s, an assemblage of 700 clay pieces interpreting local history made by San Antonio residents, the park has begun to tell a new story of the city’s origins—focused not on the Anglo defenders of the Alamo, but on the indigenous settlements around Spanish religious sites. “San Antonio was a metropolis before it was Texas, and even before it was Mexico,” Ortiz says. “It has always been a huge area for people creating culture.”