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New River Art Portal Creating Quite A Splash

The Mission Concepcion Art Portal may well be the city’s single biggest piece of art, and it’s nothing short of enormous. It’s 84 feet wide, and that’s by far the shortest angle. The long angle is a 188 feet. Artist Stacy Levy calls the installation River Return.

“This is a park that sits right between the river and Mission Concepcion. But when you stand here you can’t really see either one of them that easily.”

But there's a fix for that--you climb the installation’s centerpiece:  2-story tower that gives the sight lines to tie it all together. Levy says of course, that's by design. 

"That’s the magic of this tower. We knew you had to be elevated in order to see the two things that the site is talking about.”

To get a sense of how big the installation is, go to maps.google (satellite view) and find where Theo Street crosses the San Antonio River.  Seen from above, the dozens of small, limestone walls arcing out from that tower looks like a great big splash of water. The splash of water analogy made Ms. Levy laugh.

"That’s a good, that’s a great image! It is like a splash of water, or really, it’s more in a certain way like being in the current of the river.”

The really watery-shaped concrete designs were accomplished by sandblasting dyed concrete away from its aggregate below. Those aggregate revealed designs she calls outdoor carpet are combinations of Mission fresco elements and watery fluid lines.

“Sandblasting is like drawing with one color. It’s either blasted, or it’s not blasted. It’s this feeling of being immersed in water even though you stay completely dry when you’re in it.”

The project itself was immersed in last spring’s extreme rains, which delayed completion for several months. Speaking of those delays she said  “What was good for Texas was not so good for the project!”

The Concepcion Park Wednesday grand opening gave the public its first complete look at the heavily-treed installation.

“Making something beautiful and long-lasting is worthwhile” she added.

For more on this project go here

For more on the San Antonio River Foundation go here

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