Centro San Antonio (Centro) will debut a new placemaking location this Spring in partnership with real estate investor James Lifschutz, in a once desolate area of downtown in and around the 300 Block of East Commerce.
Located just off San Pedro Creek, this placemaking experiment will once again utilize art as a catalyst to create a space where people want to be. Art Everywhere, Centro’s public art endeavor, recently assisted in a new installation featuring a 4.5-ton, 21 ft tall sculpture entitled, “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at The Top of Lenin’s Head” (affectionately dubbed ‘The Gao Mao’) by the world-renown artists the Gao Brothers. The artists describe the piece as a satirical criticism of Mao Zedong and his cultural revolution. A full artists’ statement and background can be found here: https://www.vancouverbiennale.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Gao-Mao.pdf
“This block has been struggling for decades,” said Lifschutz. “I believe in the power of art, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to introduce something of beauty and weight into Zona Cultural. It’s slowly waking up now, and I know this sculpture will be a huge part of it.”
Lifschutz also says he was immediately drawn to the piece, its beauty, its imperfections, and satirical quality. He shares his view that acceptance of these things is how people are getting through life these days. In addition to the piece, Centro and Lifschutz have plans for more artwork and activations in the area to create a space the community can utilize for celebration, education, and enrichment.
“Art is a critical component of placemaking. It serves as a catalyst to attract people into an area previously overlooked,” said Andi Rodriguez, VP of Cultural Placemaking at Centro. “Creative neighborhoods are the places that spark energy and ideas. People naturally are drawn to places like this – and that’s what Centro is all about.”
This area of downtown is home to Texas Public Radio, San Pedro Creek, and soon the refurbished Alameda Theater and University of Texas at San Antonio Data Science Center. Centro hopes the Art Everywhere program can complement and reinforce these educational and cultural institutions.
“At the end of the day, if we can create spaces that engage and motivate our residents and visitors, we’ve done a great day’s work,” said Matt Brown, CEO of Centro. “Our organization is committed to creating and enhancing the beauty, prosperity, and playfulness of downtown. Art Everywhere is vital to achieving that commitment.”