Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

CHRISpark Tour with The Cultural Landscape Foundation® - Part 2, November 10, 2018

Continued from Part 1: Trinity University...

CHRISpark entry plaza
Our tour at CHRISpark this afternoon was totally different from this morning's tour at Trinity University. While Trinity University is large, CHRISpark is a less-than-one-acre pocket park. Trinity's tour had about 35 people; CHRISpark's tour had 12. The university tour educates thousands in all different subjects; CHRISpark educates about contemporary art and is a memorial to the founder's son, Chris Goldsbury, who died at age 24.

Jon Ahrens, the landscape architect who xeriscaped CHRISpark, was our tour guide today. He drove from Austin to give us the rundown on the park. 

At the entrance to the park, he told us about the entry plaza. If you look closely at the photo below, you will see circles in the pavers. Those house jumping water jets that go about 8' high. They were put in to provide children a fun place to play. However, they were turned off due to the high heat and water loss due to evaporation in South Texas's summers. Also in the pavers are little blue lights that shine into the night sky and replicate the constellations on the day of Chris' birth. The light art is called Starfield. Linda Pace could see the Starfield lights from her apartment on the top two floors of the building across the street.

Linda Pace's apartment was on the top two floors.
The park was dedicated in 2005 and was laid out in a series of garden rooms, each focusing on a single plant type. There are two large stands of bamboo on either side of the entry plaza. The landscape architect used those to provide shade because they grew tall fast.

Bamboo plantings
Our guide, Jim Ahrens, is on the right.
The garden "room" below is called Wednesday's Child and is a series of illuminated glass pavers that look like jewels; each has a verse in it from the nursery rhyme. Chris was born on a Wednesday.

Wednesday's Child is full of grace...
Hong Kong Orchid Tree
Just before the park was built, a parking garage was installed under the building across the street. Jon Ahrens was able to use a lot of the excavated dirt to build berms and hillocks in the park.

Hill with grass for children to roll down.
Shrimp plant in bloom.
Salvia forsythia flowering around a fig tree.
Vines help the restroom building blend into
the scenery.
Hong Kong Orchid Tree blossom.
Salvia forsythia
The park used to have contemporary art in it, but the only pieces remaining are outside SPACE, a small gallery in the back of the park. I'm guessing, though no one mentioned it, that the art pieces are either in storage or in Ruby City, a new 10,000' exhibition space, which will open across Camp Street. It will house Linda Pace Foundation's ever-growing collection of contemporary art. We did not get to tour Ruby City.
Ruby City
Linda Pace worked closely with Jon Ahrens on the plantings in the park. She knew what she wanted and asked him to put in plants that would be blooming somewhere in the park all year around. One plant, in particular, was needed: a Natchez Mock Orange. Dubbed Chris' Tree, it blooms each spring in the month of his birth and fills the air with the scent of fresh citrus.

My impression of this little park is that it does not get used much. There is a high fence around it and locking gates. The park is private with limited hours, is not well known, and you have to look to find it. Once you do, though, it's a little gem, a place you can find quietude and beauty. Really, there are no play structures for children since they turned off the water jets. Kids can roll down the one little grassy hill if, indeed, kids ever come here.

Here's a little history of Linda Pace. It's a bit complicated, but here goes: Her mother, Margaret Bosshardt, descended from the family that at one time owned the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. Her father, David Pace, started Pace 
Foods in 1947 with financial backing from her grandmother, Hedwig Bosshardt. I'm sure you've heard of Pace Picante Sauce. Well, she is the daughter of the Pace's who founded the business. 

When she got married to Kit Goldsbury, her father insisted that her husband work on the production line that made hot sauce. Kit had allergies that were aggravated by the smell of peppers and onions. Her husband lasted six months on the line. He was then promoted to a salesman and did very well, turning a profit for the company. 

In 1977, Linda's dad made Kit the president of Pace Foods. By that time, Linda's mom and dad were divorced. Linda's mother bought out her father's share of Pace Foods, making her mother Kit's boss. This caused all kinds of complications in Linda and Kit's marriage which led to their divorce. In the divorce settlement, Linda gave up her share of Pace Picante Sauce. She then felt free to engage herself fully in contemporary art.

If you'd like to know more about Linda Pace, here is a link to a very interesting article from Texas Monthly Magazine, "An Unmarried Woman," by Jan Jarboe Russell, from February 2003.

The Linda Pace Foundation is guided by the donor's conviction that contemporary art is essential to a dynamic society. The Foundation fosters the creation, presentation, and understanding of innovative expression through contemporary art. Grants pay for the operation of ArtPace, CHRISpark, the public exhibition of Pace's contemporary art collection, and the work of contemporary artists.

Our tour lasted one hour. Afterward, I went home and got ready for Traveler's World RV Park's first Steak Night and Dance of our busy season. We headed over to the Recreation Hall at 5:45 p.m. The charcoal grills were set up for people to cook whatever they brought: steak, chicken, fish, or veggies. We had two salmon steaks with garlic pesto on them. 

It was a nice evening with DJ Terry spinning country western tunes. After one dance and some socializing with Dave, Jyl, Carol, and André, we called it a night.

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