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The Art He Created A Quarter Century Ago Has New Meaning Due To The Supreme Court

Rolando Briseno
Rolando Briseno Sculpture on Marriage Island

A popular piece of public art has new meaning today for its San Antonio creator. That creator is Rolando Briseno, whose resume says he’s not just an artist, he’s also this.

“A cultural adjuster.”

He knows a lot about the South Texas culture, but twenty-four years ago, he actually lived elsewhere.

“In 1991 I was living in New York and I got a call from the Order of Alhambra, which is part of the Knights of Columbus.”

They asked him to create something to commemorate the Spanish arrival here in 1691, and the area's first Mass. Briseno created a metal table on a tiny island in the San Antonio River near where it’s said to have happened.

"So a table sprouting out with the symbols of the Mass."

Briseno installed the sculpture back when it was just a raw island, before the bridge was built onto the it. 

“When I built it that island was abandoned. Nobody thought of it, nobody went to it. But after I did that it got some attention. They planted flowers all over it.”

The sculpture gave the place a certain cache.

"People started getting married there like crazy."

Now the place is popularly called Marriage Island.

I had to note to Rolando “You created the sculpture, but back then—you couldn’t use Marriage Island.”

“No, I could not have used it, that’s for sure. It was just today with...came down from the Supreme Court same sex couples can marry.”

Briseno and his partner of twenty-three years got married two years ago in New York.

“It’s just wonderful, wonderful. Finally the country is living up to what the Constitution says.”

So now the sculptor who helped make Marriage Island what it is can finally get married there, if he should want to.  

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