Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
The Stinson Sisters of local aviation fame, the familiar maguey plant, and the “red enchilada” Central Library are among the highlights of a new 240-linear-foot, multi-panel mural adorning the walls of the new rental car facility at the San Antonio International Airport.
The City’s Department of Arts & Culture
unveiled ¡Adelante San Antonio!, a three-part mural by local artist duo Dos Mestizx, in the airport’s brand-new Consolidated Rental Car Facility, which opened at midnight on Wednesday just as cold weather descended on San Antonio. Though many City facilities closed for the weather, the new building opened as scheduled.
Suzy González and Michael Menchaca, the artists of Dos Mestizx, chose imagery chronicling 300 years of regional history, including examples of local personalities, Texas flora, and signature local architecture from Mission Concepción to the Tower of the Americas. Underlying the mural’s imagery is an overall pattern meant to suggest farmlands as seen from the air, interwoven with river imagery and stylized footprints.
“For us, the footprints are a recognition of the first steps taken on this land, and this progression of culture,” González said of inhabitants who had lived here long before the post-colonial 300-year period of the Tricentennial.
The mural combines elements of aviation, immigration, architecture, and art, González said. Cartoon renderings of airplanes cover a range of aircraft, from World War I-era biplanes, to the innovative and locally-invented Howard 500 business jet, to modern-day passenger jets.
Two large, colorful panels greet passenger traffic outside, along the facade of the ovular building, flanking a new sky bridge that connects terminals to the rental car facility. The two panels each feature hybrid renderings of eagles and planes, calling to mind San Antonio’s history as “the birthplace of military aviation.”
The hybrid bird-planes resolve dichotomies between the natural world and technology, González said, “to break those barriers and recognize that culture is part of nature.”
Tom Bartlett, San Antonio International Airport deputy aviation director, was enthusiastic about the colorful addition to the airport. “The impressive and large mural is one of the first things anybody entering the customer service center will see,” he said. A touchpad kiosk explains individual elements of the mural to curious visitors.
“It’s beautiful!” Councilman Robert Treviño (D1) said of the mural. Treviño is an architect, and, as it happens, also a pilot and aviation enthusiast. He was instrumental in facilitating the addition of the mural to what might otherwise have been a plain concrete building, he said.
“The complementary aspect of the architecture and the art allowed for a very thoughtful public art piece,” Treviño said. “It’s something we can all be very proud of, as well as people visiting San Antonio. This is something that represents us very well.”
Public Art San Antonio, a division of the Department of Arts and Culture, approached González and Menchaca after they had completed the City’s Public Art Mentorship program in 2017, but Treviño said incorporating a significant piece of public art in the rental car facility has been a more than three-year project.
Funding for the mural came from 1 percent of the $165.5 million overall budget for the facility, which will also fund other art projects in the new building, said Tonya Hope, spokeswoman for the City of San Antonio Aviation Department. All capital projects funded by the City have 1 percent of the budget set aside for art. The interior and exterior mural panels, along with the informational kiosk, cost $300,000, and the remainder of the budget paid for lighting, design and architectural enhancements, said Javier Flores, assistant marketing manager for the Department of Arts & Culture.
Matt Evans, the recently-hired San Antonio International Airport arts, culture, and music specialist, will oversee public arts projects in the airport, to include performing arts.
The airport will “be a gateway that captures the charm of San Antonio,” Evans said, “and that story its told not just through one medium, but through multiple mediums, whether that be the performing arts or static works.”
Treviño agrees that the airport is important in establishing the city’s identity. The Adelante mural, he said, is “part of my effort in trying to make the [rental car facility] really special, as people walk in and have their first impression of our city.”
The first element of the Dos Mestizx mural visible from the sky bridge entrance is the three-dimensional Ventana Rosada, or Rose Window, which González and Menchaca closely observed during a trip to Mexico City last year, also recognizing its presence on a subsequent trip to Spain.
The symbol itself having traveled a similar route as many inhabitants of San Antonio, González said “we wanted it to be a symbol of the city, welcoming those who are visiting, or returning home.”
¡Adelante San Antonio! is visible during airport open hours at no charge, other than nominal parking fees.