Centro San Antonio (Centro) has debuted a new placemaking location this spring in partnership with real estate investor James Lifschutz. A Gao Brothers sculpture has been sited in a once desolate area of downtown San Antonio around the 300 Block of East Commerce.
Located just off San Pedro Creek, this placemaking experiment will once again utilize art as a catalyst to create a space where people want to be. Art Everywhere, Centro’s public art endeavor, recently assisted in a new installation featuring a 4.5-ton, 21 ft tall sculpture entitled, “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at The Top of Lenin’s Head” (affectionately dubbed ‘The Gao Mao’) by the world-renown artists the Gao Brothers. The artists describe the piece as a satirical criticism of Mao Zedong and his cultural revolution.
“This block has been struggling for decades,” Lifschutz said. “I believe in the power of art, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to introduce something of beauty and weight into Zona Cultural. It’s slowly waking up now, and I know this sculpture will be a huge part of it.”
Lifschutz also says he was immediately drawn to the piece, its beauty, its imperfections, and satirical quality. He shares his view that acceptance of these things is how people are getting through life these days. In addition to the piece, Centro and Lifschutz have plans for more artwork and activations in the area to create a space the community can utilize for celebration, education, and enrichment.
“Art is a critical component of placemaking. It serves as a catalyst to attract people into an area previously overlooked,” Andi Rodriguez, VP of Cultural Placemaking at Centro, said. “Creative neighborhoods are the places that spark energy and ideas. People naturally are drawn to places like this – and that’s what Centro is all about.”
This area of downtown is home to Texas Public Radio, San Pedro Creek, and soon the refurbished Alameda Theater and University of Texas at San Antonio Data Science Center. Centro hopes the Art Everywhere program can complement and reinforce these educational and cultural institutions.
“If we can create spaces that engage and motivate our residents and visitors, we’ve done a great day’s work,” said Matt Brown, CEO of Centro. “Our organization is committed to creating and enhancing the beauty, prosperity, and playfulness of downtown. Art Everywhere is vital to achieving that commitment.”
More about Centro San Antonio
Centro San Antonio is a nonprofit placemaking organization which manages the downtown public improvement district (PID). Centro strives every day to catalyze a more beautiful, playful, prosperous and welcoming downtown San Antonio that amplifies our culture, heritage and spirit. Learn more at www.centrosa.org.
More about Art Everywhere
The Art Everywhere Project manages the selection, curation and installation of privately supported art in the public realm. Each downtown property owner and business is unique; Art Everywhere serves as the matchmaker, offering a turn-key program so businesses can discover art that works for them. This partnership fosters deeper understanding about why art matters and allows property and business owners to support more local art and artists while enhancing their businesses and blocks.
Learn more at www.centrosanantonio.org/art-everywhere/