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Introducing Labor Plaza – A Public Art Tribute to the Labor Movement in San Antonio

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DOWNTOWN PLAZA FEATURES SCULPTURES, POETRY AND VISUAL ARTS THAT WILL EDUCATE AND INSPIRE VISITORS.

SAN ANTONIO (September 2, 2022) – The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture invites the community to visit the newly completed Labor Plaza, which highlights the contributions of the labor movement and labor leaders in San Antonio and the United States. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg will be on-site for the official ribbon cutting ceremony which will be held on Monday, September 5, 2022 at 11:45 a.m.

Located in the River Walk Public Art Garden on Market Street across from the Henry B. González Convention Center, Labor Plaza is located in a space that was originally home to a sculpture of labor leader Samuel Gompers, created in 1982 by Betty Jean Alden. Due to irreparable structural damage caused by time and weather elements, the sculpture had to be decommissioned and deinstalled. The Department of Arts & Culture collaborated with American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) on a contemporary way to replace the sculpture and continue to recognize labor, civil rights and social justice in San Antonio in the space.

“Labor Plaza is a tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of labor leaders throughout the history of San Antonio,” said Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Krystal Jones. “We hope that the community will find this space to be engaging, inspiring and educational as we commemorate the labor movement from the past to the present.”

Visitors to Labor Plaza will find etchings and visual artworks embedded throughout the plaza including a poem titled So that Our Crossing May Never be Obstructed and five artworks by Octavio Quintanilla, San Antonio Poet Laureate 2018 – 2020; an excerpt from labor anthem Solidarity Forever written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915; and biography etchings recognizing eight notable San Antonio labor figures. Influential leaders, who are honored at the space, include Emma Tenayuca, Hank Brown, Rebecca Flores, Joan Suarez, Robert Thompson, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Mario Marcel Salas, Samuel Gompers and Shelley Potter.

In addition, a sculptural series titled I Remember Everything by Washington-based artist Ries Niemi is installed within the plaza. The Department of Arts & Culture worked with San Antonio landscape architect firm Terra Design Group to craft the layout of the space to inspire learning and reflection on labor in San Antonio.

Linda Chavez-Thompson was the first Hispanic woman to serve as an Executive Board member of the National AFL-CIO in 1993 and then elected to a newly created position of Executive Vice-President of the National AFL-CIO in 1995. She served in office thru 2007, when she retired and came back home to San Antonio.  “We are grateful to the City of San Antonio for recognizing the hard-fought efforts and accomplishments of the local labor movement through this beautiful Labor Plaza,” said Chavez-Thompson. “Personally, it is an honor to be included alongside such influential labor leaders, who have all had a tremendous impact on the labor movement so that working people today have better wages and working condition and workers’ rights.” 

Labor Plaza is part of the River Walk Public Art Garden, which functions as an outdoor public art exhibition featuring works from San Antonio and international artists. Some artworks by San Antonio artists also featured here include  “Bloom” by Leticia Huerta, “Green Spaces at Market Street” by Cade Bradshaw and Ashley Mireles, “Spheres of Reflection” by Kaldric Dow and “Najo Jām” by Carlos Cortés and Doroteo Garza.

For more information about Labor Plaza, the River Walk Public Art Garden and the Department of Arts & Culture’s Public Art Program, visit SanAntonio.gov/arts or follow the Department of Arts & Culture on social media at @GetCreativeSA.

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Downtown SA Lights Up for the Holidays

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Downtown San Antonio will sparkle this holiday season with an array of lights and holiday events. 

Set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most historic and charming walkways, five blocks of Houston Street will buzz with twinkling lights, decorations, entertainers, and vendors from Nov. 24 and runs through January 2. 

 Additionally, on Nov. 24, kick off the holiday festivities with the Annual H-E-B Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Travis Park. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and include live entertainment, food trucks, letters to Santa, giveaways, holiday crafts, a special visit from Santa, and a movie screening of “The Grinch.” The tree-lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. 

Get front-row seats to the 42nd Annual Ford Holiday River Parade, which offers a spectacular one-hour parade along the San Antonio River Walk starting at 6 pm at the Tobin Center. This year’s theme, “Holiday Stories,” will kick off the San Antonio tradition. Always held the day after Thanksgiving, the parade and river lighting ceremony will feature 28 illuminated floats and over 100,000 lights (2,250 strands) illuminating the River Walk. The lights turn on from sundown to sunrise every day until the weekend following New Year’s Day. Seating ranges from $15 to $40. It is broadcast live at 7 p.m. at the Arneson River Theatre.

The Rotary Ice Rink, presented by Valero, will also return this fall at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio. Since 2019, nearly 200,000 people have enjoyed the rink and surrounding festivities. For more information, including hours of operation, pricing, and specials, visit (rotaryicerink.com).

For more events, go to (VisitSanAntonio.com).

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Harlem Renaissance – First African American Movement of International Modern Art

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In February 2024, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present the groundbreaking exhibition The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism from Feb. 25-July 28, 2024, at The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 999 in New York

Through some 160 works, it will explore the comprehensive ways in which Black artists portrayed everyday modern life in the new Black cities that took shape in the 1920s–40s in New York City’s Harlem and Chicago’s South Side and nationwide in the early decades of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans began to move away from the segregated rural South. The exhibition will establish the Harlem Renaissance as the first African–American–led movement of international modern art.

The Ford Foundation and Denise Littlefield Sobel provide major support for the exhibition. The Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the Enterprise Holdings Endowment, and The International Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art provide additional support.

Many of the paintings, sculptures, and works on paper come from the extensive collections of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

“This landmark exhibition reframes the Harlem Renaissance, cementing its place as the first African American–led movement of international modern art,” said Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and CEO. “Through compelling portraits, vibrant city scenes, and dynamic portrayals of nightlife created by leading artists of the time, the exhibition boldly underscores the movement’s pivotal role in shaping the portrayal of the modern Black subject—and indeed the very fabric of early 20th-century modern art.

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism will open with galleries that explore the cultural philosophy that gave shape to the New Negro movement of art and literature, a term defined and popularized by the movement’s founding philosopher, Howard University professor Alain Locke, in dialogue with W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles S. Johnson, and influential literary and music figures including Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson. 

The Met has an extended history of collecting and displaying works by artists active during the Harlem Renaissance. In the 1940s, the Museum acquired several early works by gift from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), such as Jacob Lawrence’s Pool Parlor (1942). 

A fully illustrated scholarly catalog on the vibrant history of the Harlem Renaissance will accompany the exhibition. The Met will host various exhibition-related educational and public programs, to be announced later, while also pursuing community outreach and engagement initiatives. The exhibition is featured on The Met’s website at (TheMetMuseum.org) and on social media.

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Jay-Z Exhibit Opens in Brooklyn 

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Jay-Z’s motto is to “Always Bet On Yourself.” His formula has paid off since he has continuously shaped the culture and broken barriers for nearly three decades. 

Now, fans can uncover more about his career through The Book Of HOV exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library. Variety magazine said the 40,000-square-foot exhibit provides a deep dive into Jay-Z’s life and career through seven themed “zones” that explore his influence on music, culture, business, and social justice. With a curated collection of recordings, clothing, artifacts, audio tours, and videos, this homage to Jay-Z is a must-visit for fans and enthusiasts. 

According to Hot New Hip Hop website, the installation presented by Roc Nation has already made waves online before its launch on July 14. “The Brooklyn Library put Jay-Z’s lyrics on display outside of the building to formally announce the exhibit. On the opening night, his wife, Beyonce, and their daughter, Blue Ivy, were in attendance. Additionally, Rakim, Questlove, Lil Uzi Vert, Fat Joe, and more came to show support.”

According to the exhibit’s website, the Book Of HOV is a tribute exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch, recognizing Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter’s extraordinary journey from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects to a global figure. The multimedia exhibit explores JAY-Z’s global impact as a musician, innovator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

The exhibit presents thousands of archived objects, including original recording masters, never-before-seen photos, iconic stage wear, prestigious awards and recognitions, and videos and artifacts from every facet of JAY-Z’s professional life. 

“Our goal, with The Book of HOV tribute exhibition, is to provide a behind-the-scenes look at a Hall of Fame songwriter and performer, successful business person, and a consequential philanthropist who has never forgotten the lessons he learned on the road to success. And the borough where his journey began,” according to the Brooklyn Library. 

The exhibit is free to visitors. To learn more about the exhibit, visit (TheBookOfHOV.com).

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