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Enormous Mission Espada-area Tree of Life art project nears completion

The new Tree of Life art project will open to the public in May. (SBG photo)
The new Tree of Life art project will open to the public in May. (SBG photo)
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SAN ANTONIO - Over 700 San Antonians will get to see their art work on display when the innovative Tree of Life project opens to the public this spring.

Located between Mission Espada and the San Antonio River, the 40 by 80 foot creation salutes the area's rich mission and ranching history.

The highlight of the two-year project is the 700-plus pieces of original art supplied by local residents.

"What you are seeing is a piece of art work that is actually composed of individual art works," said Robert Amerman, executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation.

Artist Margarita Cabrera worked with the local storytellers to help produce the original works of art, which are suspended from the tree.

She even teamed with her two sons to provide one of the pieces, a tribute to her grandmother as well as her connection to the area. She digitized one of her grandmother's tears and represented it in the piece.

"They were created with clay that comes right from the ground," she said. "It has the memory of the land and of the people that have lived in this part of the world for centuries."

The work is a collaboration between the San Antonio River Foundation, the Missions and the artist.

"The master plan idea was could we build public art portals that essentially got hikers and bikers to pause for a moment? We are known to be pretty ambitious," Amerman said. "We tend to go big.. This is the most ambitious of the art portal projects."

The privately-funded $1 million project took over two years to construct.

Many of the individual art projects drew tears from the people who shared their stories.

"To me this piece is a love letter back to San Antonio," Amerman said.

"This is kind of our crescendo project."

The public will get a chance to view Arbol de la Vida: Memorias y Voces de la Tierra in May.

Cabrera is still raising funds for a digital site that will tell the stories of each of the 700 art pieces. To contribute, contact her at or visit her web site.

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"We knew it was important to bring the community into this project," she said, "and to celebrate them as a way of telling the story of the city."

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