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San Antonio's Tricentennial Is a Party 300 Years in the Making

Written by , published December 15, 2017

Cruz Ortiz in his studio

The best destination cities give travelers a distinct feeling that can only be experienced by walking their streets. A visit to a city as rich in culture, colorful in personality, and as central to Texas history as San Antonio is uniquely satisfying.

To purchase a limited-edition poster of Cruz Ortiz’s cover art, visit shop.texashighways.com.

With the city putting finishing touches on plans for unprecedented celebrations in honor of its tricentennial year—plans that have been underway since 2015— the Alamo City will sparkle like never before in 2018.

Events Editor Jane Murray visited the Tricentennial Commission offices that sit above Centro des Artes in San Antonio’s Market Square last August to research our cover story: “Even the Tricentennial offices reflect the colorful culture we all know and love about San Antonio—walls painted orange, blue, green, pink, purple, and yellow; always ready for a party—its tabletops decorated with tricentennial fiesta swag, such as a pair of glasses that exclaim ‘300!’”

“I can’t leave this amazing landscape with so much deep history, even prehistory. There’s so much here for me to use and reflect upon.”

To capture this spirit of fiesta, we invited San Antonio artist Cruz Ortiz to create a one-of-a-kind cover that personifies the city’s distinctive character as it celebrates this auspicious anniversary. Says Ortiz, “When I think of my work, it’s really a reflection of just me existing in South Texas. I’ve been pulled to be in New York or Berlin or Los Angeles—those mega contemporary art epicenters—but I can’t leave this amazing landscape with so much deep history, even prehistory. There’s so much here for me to use and reflect upon. The work I primarily do understands what it means to be Mexican-American in Texas. This is the place that makes sense for me to work in and figure out.”

And while the tricentennial commemorates the date of the city’s founding on May 1, 1718, San Antonio’s history goes far beyond its colonial anniversary. Cruz’s cover art honors this with its reference to Yanaguana, the name San Antonio’s Native American inhabitants gave their village and its river, according to historians. Divisions over which part of its past is most worthy of fêting notwithstanding, San Antonians welcome a good reason to revel.

“We’re the biggest party town in Texas,” Cruz says. “The city shuts down whenever we have an event or a holiday going on. I want people to know there’s a reason for that party—300 years!”

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