Make the Tricentennial About Women and Women’s Empowerment

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Trilogy dancers perform underneath the unveiled logo. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Dancers from Trilogy Dance Center perform underneath the Tricentennial logo during its unveiling.

Following this past weekend’s Luminaria at Hemisfair, which some viewed as a prelude to San Antonio's Tricentennial celebration, I was thrilled to read that San Antonio's Woman's Pavilion was featured in 2013's Luminaria festivities.

The Woman’s Pavilion in Hemisfair Park.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The Woman’s Pavilion in Hemisfair Park is located near the Tower of the Americas.

The historic and globally supported Woman’s Pavilion, a tenacious and crowdfunded effort that was built as a permanent public facility and centered HemisFair '68, must be revived and celebrated during the Tricentennial year. The pavilion, located near the Tower of the Americas, could and should be a vibrant heart of San Antonio's visitation in 2018 and in the future.

San Antonio has an abundance of female-powered art that should be celebrated during the Tricentennial. Computer scientist and graphic artist Janice Lourie's innovative touch screen-driven loom prints and artists Sister Corita Kent and Georgia O'Keeffe's works were prominently displayed at HemisFair ’68. That World's Fair was about and made extraordinary by women, despite them never having received adequate recognition for their efforts.

For more than 20 years, the women’s clay cooperative MujerArtes Studio, an equally tenacious and progressive effort founded on the city's Westside, aims to connect the community and visitors with San Antonio's local culture and environment.

If rumors are true, Pat Benatar could be one of the Tricentennial's New Year’s Eve headliners. Beyond being an "invincible" 1980s rocker, Benatar this year has made international headlines for rocking out for women and women's empowerment.

Let's celebrate these and other women's accomplishments in San Antonio with the Tricentennial.

A glance at New Orleans' 2018 Tricentennial website suggests what is still possible for San Antonio's celebrations: marking the occasion with artisanal memorabilia (via MujerArtes Studio and similar organizations), community engagement, inspiring aims, leadership, and – critically – a commitment to preserving a signature legacy public building such as our city's Woman’s Pavilion.

Women rock, but they are living in trying times. The hashtag #metoo, which went viral after several women stepped forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment, has the public talking about how we treat and regard women.

San Antonio can remember its past, celebrate its people, and lead into a better future by making the Tricentennial about women and women’s empowerment.

The Tricentennial Commission must invite more women who rock and commemorate the women who have rocked San Antonio. That includes reopening the national heritage Woman’s Pavilion. Notable San Antonio women such as Lila Cockrell, Fay Sinkin, Margaret Tobin, Bertha González, and Edith McAllister were driving forces behind the creation of the Woman's Pavilion. The building deserves better than to be boarded up and forgotten.

Through the Tricentennial, this city can collectively celebrate how women will continue to shape San Antonio's future. It’s not too late, and I am hopeful for a celebration based on the leadership and past efforts of our city’s courageous, clever, and loving women and men.

As Pat Benatar sings, “What are we waiting for?

10 thoughts on “Make the Tricentennial About Women and Women’s Empowerment

  1. Why is it no longer ok to be a white male? Why does everything have to cater to women and minorities. This over PC attitude us part of what got trump elected. People are tired of it. You sell out.

    • Who said it is no longer ok to be a white male? Sounds like someone is being a little overly sensitive, maybe even a bit of a snowflake. Being pro-woman doesn’t have to mean anti-man. Being pro-minority doesn’t mean being anti-white. Why is that so hard to understand? By claiming that “everything has to cater to women and minorities” you are implying that those groups do not rightfully have a seat at the table of power.

      It’s really funny that you are blaming the election of Donald Trump on the attitudes of the people most likely to oppose him. Wouldn’t he be elected by the people who agree with his racist, misogynistic points of view?

        • Men – particularly white men – don’t NEED anything to be about them and their empowerment; they are already there, and have been for centuries. All that women and other minorities are asking for is the level playing field they have never been given.

  2. Women’s groups love to push for rewards for young women- born after the women’s rights movement in the 1960’s. Those of us who were maturing during that time suffered career and economic push-back from traditionalists who believed women belonged at home raising children. Yes- they eventually changed their minds- around the time that THEIR wives and daughters decided to join the workforce.

  3. Silly me. And here I thought our Tricentennial was about a city and its peoples’ 300th year of existence. Is that cause not worthy of celebration in itself?

  4. I didn’t realize that San Antonio’s 2014 Power of Preservation Gala was held at the Woman’s Pavilion:

    The following video posted to YouTube showcases the Woman’s Pavilion and includes Sherry Kafka Wagner, Clair Golden and Diane Chase:

    Others have pointed to the work of San Antonio’s Women’s Hall of Fame since the 1980s:

    Women might not be surprised by the comments above, but I’m a little taken aback that anyone would read a call to renew and preserve an innovative and truly national heritage building in the center of our downtown in its 50th year (and noting the plywood over some windows on display) as somehow not about celebrating the history and accomplishments of San Antonio and preserving our legacy into the future.

    Likewise, how anyone could feel excluded by a call to recognize how IBM (thanks to the brilliance and hard work of Janice R. Lourie) stunned and delighted the visiting nation and world at Hemisfair with a glimpse at touch screen computing, computer assisted design (CAD) and a form of 3D printing in San Antonio some 50 years ago:

    Or by recognizing how prominent national artists Sister Corita Kent and Georgia O’Keeefe (assisting Alexander Girard) and other women and men helped the world to celebrate our confluence of cultures in San Antonio and plan for a better future.

    Or by encouraging SA300 to engage with the work of MujerArtes Studio and other local artists and activists, including to avoid some of the exclusionary approaches that nearly wrecked San Antonio’s Sestercentennial in 1968.

    I guess I could have really stirred some folks up by writing about how New Orleans aims for community engagement and racial reconciliation as aspects of their 2018 Tricentennial–as part of celebrating New Orleans’ past accomplishments, the resilience of residents and setting course for a better city future (what these civic events are meant to do).

    And If Pat Benatar is one of our SA300 headliners, why not try to engage with her globally recognized work on behalf of women and women’s empowerment? Even if Benatar is not on the bill, I don’t see how celebrating women and women’s empowerment–including by preserving our historic and public Woman’s Pavilion –is at odds with our Tricentennial. We wouldn’t have made it 300 years if not for women, and there is no future San Antonio without women.

  5. I love the design of the women’s pavilion and hope it is brought back to its former glory. I also agree that we should celebrate the tricentennial for what it is, why make it only about one group’s contribution to our city?

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