Saturday, November 18, 2017

Golden hour in The Briscoe Western Art Museum garden

We were invited to an evening reception in the McNutt Sculpture Garden at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.  The event was sponsored by San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) and we made a point of arriving early to take advantage of the light.

The courtyard incorporates an ancient access pathway to the San Antonio River so it's open free to the public during museum hours but is usually closed in the evening and early morning making this quite a treat to catch native Lindheimer muhly grasses grazed with the sun's last rays of the day.

The "golden hour" for photos as one of our SAWS hosts put it when she welcomed our early arrival.

The Rainmaker

Lake|Flato architecture designed the Jack Guenther Pavilion event space in 2013 as an addition to the 1930 Art Deco gallery building.  Austin-based Christy Ten Eyck landscaped the courtyard.

Another excellent Lake|Flato and Ten Eyck collaboration in San Antonio and it's been on my must-see list for a while.

These two firms are so prolific it's a challenge to keep up with them.

Riverfront hotels form a backdrop to this small urban space.

El Caporal
Live Oak trees screen nearby buildings.

Or at least screen as much as possible.  Someday those oaks will meet and the parking garage across the street should disappear.

Dance of the Eagle

Golden Wings

Cow's tongue opuntia native to Comal County just north of San Antonio and Hesperaloe set the stage.

The century old original waterworks for San Antonio forms one side of the courtyard.  It's small because our underground aquifer water source is so clean it's simply piped out of the ground and into our homes with only a spritz of chlorine to keep bacteria at bay.  

The Eyes of Texas
Lindheimer's Muhly in a slight evening breeze.

Sculptural Live Oaks, like the one at the end of the walk, fit right into this garden repeating the curvy form of those longhorns.

Horses on these large panels which also function as gates.

The 'Partners in Conservation' event celebrated a milestone of a trillion gallons of water saved through conservation over twenty years.  Another milestone, a new desalination plant is up and running.  We're about 150 miles from the beach so what gives with that?  We have a major source of brackish, but otherwise clean, water in the Wilcox aquifer south of town which now provides 12 million gallons of drinking water a day.  More importantly, the Wilcox aquifer is not subject to drought restrictions.

Strength of the Maker
Variegated ginger adds a bright highlight.

More of those sunlit grasses.

The event got underway just as the sun set.  During regular hours you will find tables and chairs to enjoy lunch or a break from a day of walking in the city.

On the right is a group learning about the first artesian well in San Antonio depicted in a tile mural.

The gusher just right of the Alamo marks the waterworks and museum location.

The museum's river portal has a spectacular waterfall.

A look down at live oaks from the upper level of the pavilion with the San Antonio River just visible through the trees.

Bird Woman

What a beautiful place to spend an evening!

I'll be sure to detour through the Briscoe sculpture garden during future trips downtown.

The Briscoe is open until 5pm most days and until 9pm on "Downtown Tuesdays" which is a popular night for locals to visit.  Parking is free on Tuesday night plus many restaurants and other venues feature specials enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.


  1. What happens to the waste brine from desalination?
    Ours will be returned to the ocean, but we are concerned about the effect on sealife.

    1. The waste will be injected deep underground into an area with an already high saline content. The plant generates one gallon of brine for each 10 gallons processed. Seems quite a high ratio but apparently worth the cost in the long run.

  2. I know I've said it before but you have a beautiful city. It's good to know that the city isn't resting on its laurels but continues to take significant steps to improve its public spaces.

    1. It just keeps getting better and there are a few more downtown projects to show you soon.

  3. What a lovely setting! The sculptures are impressive, as are the plants and hardscapes. Lucky you to have such a clean water source! As I've mentioned before, we loved San Antonio when we were there many years ago. I'm sure it's changed quite a bit during the past couple of decades.

    1. It's just a wonderful space to enjoy either on your own or at an event as I did.


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