The Second Street Public Art Master Plan (part of Great Streets), in coordination with the City’s Art in Public Places program, has methodically been placing art in around the district since the mid-2000s, when 7 sidewalk enhancements were commissioned at district intersections to reflect a unified theme.
The City of Austin has a 2% for art ordinance that was established in 1985. Art in Public Places (AIPP) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and Austin was the first municipal public art program in the state of Texas. Under the ordinance, 2% of eligible capital improvement project budgets are allocated for the commission of public art for that site. The projects in The Second Street Public Art Master Plan are under that envelope of funding.
This month, plans were filed for the second to last artist, Laura Garanzuay Studio, to begin a sidewalk art installation at 2nd and Guadalupe, in front of La Condesa. You may have noticed that in downtown, the north / south streets are named after rivers (that “flow” into Lady Bird Lake), and intersect with numbered streets (secondarily named after trees, usually) Accordingly, the overall theme for the Second Street streetscape is “Rivers, Streams, and Springs” – where art projects in the district’s plan would have some relation to the rivers of the streets on which they are located. The Garanzuay project (appropriately named “Flow”) fits nicely – it’s to be an installation that depicts several aspects of the Guadalupe River.
You may have also noticed other streetscape public art at nearby 2nd street intersections reminiscent of waterways and nature:
And, though Willy takes center stage in front of the W, there’s a subtle installation at 2nd and Lavaca, as well (taken from the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division Flickr):
Cow River by Brewton and Davies
Inspired by the bison which once roamed the area, the artists have created an abstracted herd etched in concrete. Embedded solar lights represent constellations that early explorers used for navigation.
Lani Gonzalez, with the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin describes the new piece at 2nd and Guadalupe accordingly:
Composed of hundreds of stainless steel pin-drive anchors, three gracefully curving lines represent movement across the open swath of sidewalk. Concentric circles of varying sizes intersect, symbolizing rain dropping into the river and carried along as life source to all that the river touches. Intermingling with these are three images of flora and fauna that thrive in and along the Guadalupe River.
Here’s a look at the initial plans for the work:
AIPP will host a free walking tour of art in the 2nd Street District on May 16. Attendees will meet at the southwest side of the City Hall Plaza at 10 am. The public art “crawl” is a featured event of the West Austin Studio Tour this year.
You can also browse the City’s public art collection here. The site has a map and downloadable guide of 7 public art tours. (The newer works along 2nd Street have not been added to the site yet.)