© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

San Antonio Artist Bill FitzGibbons Shines In Public Art Exhibit

A San Antonio artist has won a prestigious national award. Light, in fact, is the medium of the piece created by Bill FitzGibbons.

“I installed in downtown Birmingham, Alabama; a public artwork called Light Rails," FitzGibbons said. "It was put in an art deco 1930s railroad underpass.”

The place was a wide and very dark railroad bridge separating downtown Birmingham from a neat new park and ball field the city built. But as FitzGibbons explained, it was not an inviting place.

“[It was] rather dark and had some transients hanging out in it, and there were some safety issues,” he said.

Birmingham could have just added lights to the area, but instead they had FitzGibbons add art that was full of light.

"And the art deco architecture was just perfect for a light installation," he said. "I wanted to respect the architecture, at the same time turn it into a dynamic, energized artwork.”

And he did just that.  If you’re familiar with his light sculpture under San Antonio’s I-37 overpass at Commerce street, some of the same cycling-through-colored-light elements are in play in Birmingham. He has been back a few times since completion.

“I have never been there when there’s not somebody in there taking photographs," he said. "It’s been very successful and has really gone viral on the internet," he said.

It’s also just won the CODAworx Award in the transportation category; a noteworthy national art award.

“It’s really an honor. Birmingham is going through a center city revival,” he said.

Much like the Alamo City, FitzGibbons said Birmingham has recognized public art as an essential part of the equation. 

“There is case after case after case where public art has a way to become an economic generator for the entity. It becomes a destination in and of itself,” he said.