Cost of San Pedro Creek Sculpture Doubles; Project’s Future Uncertain

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Courtesy / San Antonio River Authority

A rendering shows the sculpture titled Plethora that was designed for the San Pedro Creek Culture Park.

Changes to the Plethora sculpture designed for the San Pedro Creek Culture Park will boost the project’s cost to $1.5 million, more than double the amount budgeted by Bexar County Commissioners, San Antonio River Authority officials said Friday.

The project’s new price tag is $1,534,025, but the future of the project remains unclear. T.J. Mayes, chief of staff for Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, told the Rivard Report on Friday that Bexar County Commissioners will not authorize any more county funds to be spent on the sculpture.

In addition, Commissioners will decide whether they find the revised design of the project to be acceptable, according to both Mayes and Carrie Brown, the public art curator for San Pedro Creek.

The County commissioned Barcelona-based artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada to create the public artwork in October 2016. Of the $735,000 authorized for the sculpture in November 2016, $257,250 has been spent, according to the San Antonio River Authority, which oversees the San Pedro Creek Culture Park. Rodríguez-Gerada received $123,500 for his work to date on the project, and $133,750 has been spent laying the base for the 10-ton sculpture that was intended to be placed at the head of the creek.

Rodríguez-Gerada told the Rivard Report in March that the cost of the project increased because the project’s engineers decided the sculpture needed to be constructed of stainless steel instead of aluminum to ensure its structural integrity. The scale of the work, originally designed to be 60 feet tall, has been downsized to 45 feet.

Mayes said the remaining $799,025 needed for the sculpture would need to be raised from private sources by the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio River Foundation, the river authority’s nonprofit partner.

“We would wrap this into other fundraising that we would be doing in general for the public art program for San Pedro Creek,” said Suzanne Scott, general manager for the San Antonio River Authority.

Robert Amerman, executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation, said there were two possible paths for the project.

“We can either continue to look into private funding channels for Plethora,” Amerman said in a text. “Or we can begin discussing alternative artistic options with the project’s partners that fall within the project’s scope and budget.”

Mayes said Commissioners are discussing the possibility of a replacement work and emphasized that $477,750 from the project’s original budget had yet to be spent.

The first segment of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park opened on May 5 without the sculpture in place.

20 thoughts on “Cost of San Pedro Creek Sculpture Doubles; Project’s Future Uncertain

  1. The money could be better spent on improving roads, drainage, and building more police substations to improve neighborhood safety. Ridiculous expense and NO MORE taxpayer dollars should be used.

  2. I LIKE the Plethora design! It’s bold and beautiful. It’s art folks. The rest of the funds can be raised privately. I’m willing to contribute a small amount – I’m certainly not rich, but I think this is a great design and the original height should be restored too!

  3. I am a fan of public art and appreciate much of what we have in SA. I enjoy walking the Museum Reach and the art place under the bridges. However, using such vast amounts of public/taxpayer dollars is irresponsible in a city who is in dire need of other services that will directly affect the lives of the underserved in this city. Houston’s Barcelona public art (Jaume Plensa) along Allen Parkway was donated!!!! A gift to the city. It has special meaning in its gift from it’s donor. If there is a group who want this sculpture so badly, I suggest they raise the funds themselves.

  4. I find it to be an overly simple meaningless thing made from a dead material that won’t change over the years. I already didn’t like it even before the price increased. And then I went to Cuba and saw Primavera, the face sculpture on Havana’s waterfront Malecon. She was done by a local art professor, Rafael San Juan, to honor Cuban women. There’s movement and strength in the way her neck stretches and even more movement in the tendrils of hair “blowing” back away from the face. She’s made of recycled steel which seems to have rusted and should be in a perpetual state of change. Now there’s art!!

  5. Art is subjective. To some it’s art to others a pile of junk. Artist are no different from others they can get greedy when they see taxpayer funds.

  6. It appears the Plethora sculpture is aptly named.
    noun: plethora; plural noun: plethoras
    1.1. a large or excessive amount of (something). “a plethora of committees and subcommittees”
    synonyms: excess, overabundance, superabundance, surplus, glut, superfluity, surfeit, profusion; More
    too many, too much, enough and to spare;
    informal more —— than one can shake a stick at, “a plethora of opinion polls”
    antonyms: dearth
    2.2. Medicine – an excess of a bodily fluid, particularly blood.
    It is costing a large or excessive amount of money. If we continue with the contract with Barcelona-based artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, we will have spent double the amount for a sculpture smaller than was planned to be delivered months after the opening date of May 5. The medical definition applies as well. The cost of this artwork is going to bleed us dry.
    I’ve got nothing against the aluminum structure (or is it stainless steel) but many people do. Some object to the style of the piece. Others think a contract should have been awarded to a local artist (such as the ones who did the beautiful murals in the San Pedro Creek Culture Park).
    It is time to cut our losses. The pad for the Plethora (which is already built) serves as a nice party plaza, as evidenced by the several SARA events in recent weeks. It may be time to file a lawsuit against the artist for failure to deliver. At the very least, we should stop throwing good money after bad on the Plethora project.

    • Great idea. Use the pad, now adequately built for the live load of parties, and pass out paper mache face masks of the sculpture for everyone to wear (or use as a fan/parasol) but made by local school chlidren!!

  7. Spend the money on something else along the creek. No sculptures needed. Build more shade areas, or just plant more trees..

  8. How about just do the face out of chicken wire and grow different vines interwoven that bloom at different times. Call it Etcetera.

  9. I like the art, I like the innovative vine and blooms idea (sans the chicken wire). Kudos to all those responsible for all the recent public art installations – I hope the problem with the funding can be a learning lesson though.

  10. If they can raise the new costs from private donors, I have no problem with it. I’m not crazy about the sculpture though.

    • Alternatively, SARA can just raise rates. SARA’s goal and that of the other entities feasting at the public trough is to increase rates to greater than 100% of assessed value. The assessors, for their part, are determined to raise values to more than market value.

      • Sorry, but your comment is inaccurate. First, the assessment doesnt have anything to do with SARA. if you mean utility rates, san antonio already is below average in cost/billing for what you get thanks to SARA.

        And as for BCAD wanting assessed values higher than market, that cant be by state law… but even if they wete, the tax rate would be adjusted accordingly. The vast majority of ones property tax bill is school funding. Go do something about that instead of just complaining about something that is already a good deal for tax payers.

  11. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Time to cut our losses and save the funds that have not yet been spent. This project amounts to a fleecing of the citizenry by elected officials and the artist.

    • The elected officials arent “fleecing” Maybe the artist is. The elected officials are trying to make the city better by adding publ8c art that speaks to people at a higher level. They dont know when enough is enough, just like everyone else who would have to decide when to cut your losses. I would think differently if this was the 4th cost over run. People never accomplished much thinking small. We need to consider our options without the drama.

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