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New Tile Mural Continues Long River Walk Tradition

Jack Morgan
TPR Arts
Susan Dunis & Sienna Dunis Ginn

That water tank behind the Arneson River Theater stage marks San Antonio’s oldest pump station. Just to the west of it is the brand new Briscoe Museum. The area between them is the beautiful McNutt Courtyard.

As an entrance to the River Walk, it’s a prime place to carry on a San Antonio art tradition — a painted tile mural.

"It’s completely in the W.P.A. tradition," said tile expert and author Susan Toomey Frost talking about the Works Progress Administration tile murals installed as part of the old River Walk. She cites a long tradition.

"Two of them were originally conceived for the river by Hugman," Frost said about original River Walk architect Robert Hugman.

“The Maverick mural was added as part of the Museum Reach,” Frost said.

The Museum Reach re-imagining of the River Walk stretches between Lexington Avenue and the Pearl. The current mural project took SAWS and the Briscoe more than five years to finish. They had to agree on placement, theme and design. Mother/daughter artists Susan Dunis and Sienna Dunis Ginn created the works.

"SAWS and the Briscoe were thinking about a narrative of the history of the aquifer and the river," Susan said.

The mural was designed in chronological order from ancient times at left to modern times at right.

"They’re fired three to four times each," Sienna said of the tiles.

“So a hundred years from now they should look more or less how they do now?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” Sienna said.

In a subsequent report, the unveiling of this 15 ft. by 5 ft. tile mural.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii