(Essay from The River Spectacular)
In the cool, spring nights of 2009, the Museum Reach was a microcosm of excitement and activity. The rush of energy—that peculiar blend of anxiety, exhaustion, and excitement when working toward something meaningful and worthwhile—was palpable and radiated outward in the night like a dream, seeping into the consciousness of a city asleep.
The transformation was underway. What was once inhospitable became inviting. Abandoned areas became destinations. Where there was once darkness, there is now light. While it did not happen overnight, it did happen during the night. The Grand Opening was scheduled for May 30, 2009. The surge of activity and impending deadline forced the artists to work at night while landscaping, earth moving, and sidewalk construction occurred during the day. A parallel between the works’ intended goals and the circumstances of their installation emerged. The glowing points of light along the Museum Reach during construction are now the focal points of this newly developed stretch of river.
As the artists worked through the night, so did Mark Menjivar, who documented their projects. Menjivar created images that portray the essence of these final works of art and the spirit and passion that went into their creation. They also reveal the quiet stillness of night, a feeling of timelessness, and the beautiful calm of a world free from distraction.
Photography, by nature, is the process of capturing and recording light to reproduce an image. However, that this process occurred in the night along with the installation illustrates the river’s transformation more poignantly. These glowing images capture the charge of electricity and the heightened sense of awareness achieved by staying up all night, as well as the palpable and contagious anticipation of what was yet to come.
At dusk on May 19, a group of San Antonians watched with excitement as Donald Lipski’s F.I.S.H. lit up for the very first time. At this befitting and impromptu ceremony, day turned to night, light turned to dark, the bats flew from their daytime sleeping posts under I-35, and the city slowly awakened to a new day in San Antonio’s history.