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San Pedro Creek Culture Park builds a waterfall your voice will fill with colors

San Antonio River Authority
Adam Frank's waterfall installation

Phase 1 of San Pedro Creek Culture Park is almost finished. One of the section's most distinctive aspects is a waterfall next to the intersection of the creek and Commerce Street.

During the day, the stream of water promises a refreshing sensation for visitors strolling along the refurbished walkway. But once the sun goes down and night falls, the feature will be transformed into an interactive and colorful spectacle for anyone using their voices.

Artist Adam Frank said his art revolves around a huge attribute that the San Antonio River Authority created. “They’ve made a 250-foot, very wide waterfall,” he said.

Frank said that waterfall serves the function of being a visual and auditory focal point. It is also cleaning and adding oxygen to the creek.

“But what they wanted to do is have an artwork that interacted with these falls in some way,” he explained. “Enliven these falls to make the falls an artwork as well. And so that's where I come in.”

San Antonio River Authority
Adam Frank perusing the waterfall

He began his creative process with a deep dive into history.

“My work is site specific. It's meant to be meaningful to the sites, but I try and make something simple that's meaningful to many people in many ways,” he said. “To do that, I have to study the history of the site. I have to know the general cultures, the people.”

One of Frank’s historic motivations was the Alameda Theater across the creek from the waterfall. With that in mind, Frank recreated an iconic image from the Alameda’s yesteryear.

San Antonio River Authority
the stylized retro-microphone you speak into

“When you come to the site, you see a sculpture of a 1940s microphone in the plaza in front of this 250 foot waterfall. And when you speak into this sculpture, your sounds are visualized in the lights, in the falls,” Frank said.

Any noise you make at the mic triggers a computer program that changes the light coloration of the falls.

It is also, fortuitously, located next to the headquarters of Texas Public Radio.

“This is a very unusual piece in the history of American public art," he explained. "It's a new type of interactivity in a public space in a park. So I really appreciate getting the opportunity to do something like this.”

San Antonio River Authority
waterfall colored yellow

Final testing wrapped up late last week, and visitors can see it in action next month.

“On October 14th is the grand opening of the entire park itself,” Frank said. “And I will be a part of that in the piece as part of that celebration.”

The lighting will only be activated for nighttime viewing.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

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