Pouring rain held off just long enough for the group of visiting dignitaries to become the living parts of Jorge Marín’s new sculpture, Alas de México. Alas means “wings” in Spanish, and the sculptural pair of bronze wings are set at an ideal height for people to stand between and appear as if they might fly.
Stationed at the base of the Tower of the Americas, the truly interactive Marín sculpture was officially unveiled Friday morning at Hemisfair to start off Arts For All Day, day four of the six-day Tricentennial Commemorative Week. “A gift from the Citizens of Mexico City to the Citizens of San Antonio,” reads its title placard.
Encouraging people to “to take flight towards their limitless dreams,” as Marín stated in his dedicatory video message, the sculpture might refer equally to the hopes and dreams of either nation’s citizens, or to “Dreamers,” as recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are known.
“Borders are an absurd idea,” said Claudio Ruz, Mexico City's director for protocol and diplomacy, after the dedication ceremony. “We are all one mankind, and we all live on one planet. Once you are in the air, once you are flying, borders are a thing of the past.”
Marín’s sculpture joins the 2002 La Antorcha de la Amistad (The Torch of Friendship), the vivid red-orange landmark that sits downtown between Commerce and Market streets, as gifts from Mexico. The new sculpture and the Torch of Reflection concrete-and-glass sculpture by San Antonio artist Gini Garcia are centerpieces of the citywide Commemorative Week celebration.
“As an artist, part of our job is to facilitate the coming together of a community,” Garcia said, and her thought was echoed by many speakers during the Friday morning dedication, which took place indoors at the Instituto Cultural de México.
Dignitaries from many nations have gathered in San Antonio for Commemorative Week, including representatives of sister cities in Namibia, Japan, Germany, and China. After the brief ceremony, the visitors took their place in front of the wings to have their pictures taken
, as rain clouds loomed in the near distance. Finally, the rain clouds opened up and sent the group scattering.
Alas de México, however, will remain in its place near the base of the Tower of the Americas, at least for the time being.
The gift from the artist and the Governor of Mexico City is permanent, but the duration of its siting depends on ongoing Hemisfair development, said Andres Andujar, chief executive officer of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC).
“It’s a permanent gift with a temporary installation,” Andujar said. “For now, it’s a great place. One of the ideas of a piece like the wings
, is to engage with the entire community. And so it’s not out of the question that it could go to another location that you would love.”
However, “if it’s loved” by the public, said Jimmy LeFlore, public art manager for the San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture, “it’s going to be hard to move it.”
Alas de México is publicly accessible, located up a ramp near the Hemisfair fountains, crossable via a footbridge. Its location is slightly out of the way of regular foot traffic through the park, but the bright bronze wings are visible from the main path.
Though some outdoor Arts For All Day events were also threatened by rain, Tricentennial Commission spokeswoman Laura Mayes said that most would go on as planned. Dance in the Park, led by Quenedit Dance Theatre of San Antonio, was originally scheduled for 4-7 p.m. in Travis Park but was been moved to the Pearl, Mayes said.
However, the SATX Social Ride Gallery Bike Tour, scheduled from 3-6 p.m., was cancelled, Mayes said.
The 9:30 p.m. fireworks along the Mission Reach were to go on “rain or shine,” she said. Also rain or shine, Garcia’s Torch of Reflection in Main Plaza will be lighted each evening from 7-11 p.m.