The Street Is Your Museum
This exhibition was twelve years in the making. Born of a desire by Tommy Adams and Emily Denman Thuss to document and preserve the stories of San Antonio’s gifted artisans and to educate others about the specialized skills, techniques and tools they use so skillfully to protect and preserve San Antonio’s and South Texas’s deep and rich architectural heritage.
Without these men and women and their unique and hand-earned skills in traditional crafts, our history, our identity would crumble away. They restore and repair landmarks like San Fernando Cathedral and the Alamo; preserve historical neighborhoods; enhance public spaces filled with useful pleasures like faux bois foot bridges and talapas; create unique facades for schools, churches and courthouses –for now and future generations.
Villa Finale and Blue Star –the venues for the show– are themselves rescued treasures of tradition and adaptive reuse. It is especially meaningful that many of the artisans featured in this show have worked on them. All gifted, yet humble, mostly unknown to the public, their arts is all around us –just waiting to be noticed and appreciated.
When people are awakened to the fact that down most streets of inner San Antonio –especially in areas developed and inhabited prior to 1950– if they just take the time to stop and look around, they will likely see art all around them.
On public buildings, as well as homes. Unique and beautiful facades, dormers, porches, gates, arches, windows, brickwork, staircases, molded rosettes, faceted glass, entrancing mosaics, carved angels. Created by hand, often using ancient tools and techniques –like forging, molding, carving– each curve, sash, sconce, keystone –a piece of art created and preserved by an artisan.
The photographs in this exhibition were originally exhibited at the 2007 Association of General Contractors National Convention –but have yet to be seen by the public at large. The artisans may change, one has died since the book project (The Building Arts of South Texas: Stories of Endangered Building Arts & The Craftspeople Who Keep Them Alive) began.
But the work lives on –the craft timeless. The buildings still stand, proudly displaying art all around us –just waiting to be seen and appreciated when The Street Is Your Museum.