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The Artists Who Gave The Museum Reach Its Flair: Part 1

At the very southern end of the Museum Reach sits the Lexington Avenue bridge and under that bridge is the first art installation, that of British artist Martin Richman. I reached him in London’s East End where he lives.

Credit Mark Menjivar
Martin Richman's Shimmer Field

His art installation was a series of colored, dichroic plastic rectangles suspended under the bridge. They move in the breeze, and the lights that shine on them is reflected into the undulating water underneath the bridge. At night it’s just dazzling.

"So in a way the whole thing becomes this lively space of light and color," said Richman.

The importance of the Museum Reach project isn’t lost on Richman.

“You know that river running through your city is a very precious asset to your city,” he said.

McCullough and Brooklyn Avenue bridges

Under both these bridges are installations by San Antonio artist Stuart Allen. His works are steel framed, several-layered, different-colored mesh.

Credit Mark Menjivar
Stuart Allen's Installation

"The pieces were destined to be experienced by people in motion, whether on foot in the walkways or on a river barge," said Allen.

So as you pass his pieces they change colors coming from those different layers. As Allen explained, its color selection had an interesting origin.

"The palette was generated from photographs that were taken along the River Walk by my daughter, who at the time was four," he said.

There are two additional installations on top of those bridges, by another artist.

Credit Jenelle Esparza
Puente de Encuentros, ROLANDO BRISEÑOS sculpture on McCullough Street Bridge.

“We loved it so much; we thought it was so beautiful," said Rolando Briseño, who used to bike there as a child, so he jumped at the chance to create art there. A big priority:

“It’s just so hot; we really need to get some shade," he said.

So Briseño devised elevated stylized ripples to cast shadows for those walking Brooklyn Avenue bridge on foot.

“When you move, it moves too. It has these little ripple effects,” he said.

Credit Mark Menjivar
ROLANDO BRISEÑOS Puente de Rippling Shadows on the Brooklyn Avenue Bridge

For those walking McCullough Street, his overhead, repeated hands seem to make waves across the river.

"You can’t really miss them when you go by there," Briseño said.

9th Street bridge

Credit Mark Schlesinger
Mark Schlesinger Getting Married Under the 9th Street Bridge

"Under The Over is the title I gave it," said Mark Schlesinger, who so enjoyed his creative experience underneath that bridge that he got married there.

Schlesinger devised a concrete paint with light absorbing and reflective qualities with which he painted stripes on the underside. And then there’s the four fiber-optic benches.

“The light gets reflected and refracted through the fiber optics that are integrated into the colored concrete," he said.

Run your hands over them and the benches seem alive.

Jones Street bridge

Moving up the river, the next installation isn’t one you see; it’s one you hear.

San Francisco artist Bill Fontana created a soundscape underneath the Jones Street bridge. I asked him to describe what people hear.

“They’d hear a changing mix of indigenous birds from some of the wetland habitats and some of the forests adjacent to the San Antonio River,” he said.

Fontana mixed sounds he recorded on the river between here at the Texas coast.

Tomorrow on this series we look at the F.I.S.H. installation and the artist who superheated and pounded steel to form what look like water plants.

Overview of the artist installations:

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