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The Fascinating Twist To River Walk Art Unveiled Downtown

A new piece of Art was dedicated in the city Tuesday morning . As to its subject, your first clue is where it was unveiled—The River Walk.

“We wouldn’t have the River Walk if it weren’t for Robert Hugman.”

The Paseo Del Rio’s Nancy Hunt reveals the art work—the bust of the River Walk designer, Robert Hugman.

“It was his vision and his incredible talent and tenacity, actually, ‘cause he really stuck with it. He came up with the idea in the 20s and it really wasn’t built ‘til the late 30s.”

The River Walk started as a flood control project.

“In the 20s San Antonio had a really horrible flood downtown. And there was a lot of people that just wanted to pave over the River Bend. Fortunately, he [Hugman] came up with the idea of creating a river side park in the middle of downtown.”

Back then, the River Walk as we know it didn’t exist. Fact is,  it wasn’t even very nice. All the buildings faced the streets above and the river side wasn't anything special. 

“That’s where they put their trash out. It took a great deal of persuasion to convince everyone it could work.”

But back to the art work. I asked “Who created the bust?” Hunt smiled.

“It’s a very interesting story. The young man—Sean Klinksiek—he’s from Bulverde.  He learned stone carving and masonry from his great uncle.”

And here’s the clincher.

“And his great uncle was hired by Hugman and he worked on the River Walk. He worked on some of the bridges and some of the pathways. Talk about full circle!”

Turns out, Hugman’s grandson was at the dedication. Hunt says he was really impressed with the bust.

“He was awestruck.”

The bust is just off the Commerce Street Bridge, right in front of the distinctive curved Royalty Coins building where Hugman had his office.  

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