In Cleveland, where I last lived, there were several bridge underpasses that were dark and uninviting, that I always tried to avoid at night, since they were dark and seemed unsafe. They also tended to be dirty, and had puddles and mud underneath. I recently read about a public art project that was not this year in San Antonio, Texas that transformed an underpass area with unique color changing chandeliers.
Ballroom Luminoso is a series of six globes, each of which is 48” in diameter, that are made of a custom-designed LED light fixture, upcycled bike parts, and steel. The piece uses shadows and colored light to transform the underpass space into a dramatic shadow space. The images cast iclude repeating circles and sprockets and gears, and the chandeliers transform an ordinary underpass into a unique colorful space filled with light and shape.
The project references the area’s past, present, and future and imagery that includes the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and growing environmental movement are included in each piece. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria (a board game with cards), which has become a icon of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional symbols like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon) in the work, the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.
I was looking at some websites with my niece, and her and I were both drawn to this piece, which can be seen at the intersection of Theo and Malone with I-35 in San Antonio. The artists behind the work Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock have done other interesting public art pieces, and you can check out Ballroom Luminosos and their other works on their site.