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2014 in San Antonio: The Year Was Clearly A Work Of Art

It’s been a busy year all around, and that includes art in San Antonio. TPR’s Arts and Culture Reporter Jack Morgan looks back at the year that was.

Stories on arts and culture in the San Antonio area are probably a bigger deal than in most cities. Why? Because they really do matter here. It’s in the city’s collective DNA. Or, as county judge Nelson Wolff puts it:    

“San Antonio is in the middle of a cultural renaissance.”

The city’s Felix Padron said there’s a reason for this renaissance.

“San Antonio has been defined by its culture and its artistic vision.”

And that artistic vision plays out in many interesting ways: One, for instance, is that unlike many major American cities, this one has a Poet Laureate.

“I am very, very proud of the City of San Antonio for inviting the arts in with open arms.”

That’s Carmen Tafolla, the city’s first Poet Laureate.

“And making it very rich with artistic interpretation.”

Her two-year tenure came to an end in March, and the city’s second poet was crowned.

“Well, I’m the new Poet Laureate of San Antonio, and I’m working on a new book.”

And Laurie Ann Guerrero has her priorities straight, in her capacity as Poet Laureate. What tops her agenda?

“Getting poetry into the hands of our youth and the different communities around San Antonio.”

Also in March was the opening of a brand new — and very old — venue for live music. It was downtown’s Aztec Theater, built in the 1920s. Remodeled and re-imagined as an architecturally quirky performance hall, fate very nearly dealt it a different hand. Here’s owner Sam Panchevre.

“This was almost condemned. This building almost came down and the building become a hotel.”

With April, there came some sadness, as Rod Kennedy, the creator of an iconic, long-running Kerrville event, passed on.

“His passion for songwriters led him to create what we now know as the Kerrville Folk Festival, which is in its 43rd year.”

Collaborator Dalis Allen described the annual two-and-a-half-week music celebration of music this way.

“One of the most beautiful, enduring events in our country.”

In June, retired British rocker, Sir Phil Collins, was suddenly thrust back into the limelight in downtown San Antonio.

“I’ve had a love affair with this place since I was about five years old.”

The lifelong collector of a $100 million dollars worth of Alamo historic artifacts was giving it back to the Alamo.

“I could not believe it — the exact place where my collection should be housed is the place where it came from.”   

Also downtown, one of the city’s most known, most revered structures was suddenly bathed in a bizarre and beautiful light.

“It’s a video painting of the cathedral.”

The Cathedral is one of the nation’s oldest — San Fernando. Xavier de Richmont created the video, which uses a computer-mapped out projection depicting the history, the people and the sounds of Texas.

“It’s an amazing look, an amazing glance at the city’s center, at night.”

One of the city’s oldest and largest museums has also begun its re-imagining.

“The Witte is going through a major transformation, we’re so excited.”

That’s Marisse McDermott, the CEO of the Witte.

“It’s so radical, or so dramatic, that we are calling it the New Witte.”

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is a huge story that straddles several years, but it came to a delightful conclusion in September when it opened.

“Everybody’s extremely excited.”

The San Antonio Symphony conductor, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, was quite optimistic about the new venue.

“I mean really, there’s just this positive vibe and energy in the community that’s really fantastic.”

A look back also reveals the 5-year anniversary of the Museum Reach completion, the Southwest School of Art’s new Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree Program, Luminaria, Ballet San Antonio’s re-tooling, The San Pedro Creek plan and much more.  We talked to many performers like Garrison Keillor, Justin Hayward and Bill Maher, highlighted dozens of plays and took you to many art exhibits, from San Antonio, to Seguin, to Fredericksburg to Kerrville. If you want a look back, all these stories are available online.

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