Best Of 2015

Nolan Street (I-37 underpass)

It's actually along a highway underpass, but all the talk has been about how it has served as a bridge. Culturally bridging San Antonio communities, that is.But how did a public mural with the rather eccentric name of "Vortex" accomplish such a feat? "It was all about bringing the East Side and downtown together," explained Lori Rodriguez, development manager at San Anto Cultural Arts. The organization, through artist Alex Rubio, unveiled the abstract-style display along the Interstate 37 underpass on Nolan Street in August 2013. At 218 feet long, it's still known as the city's longest public mural — to be dethroned this summer with San Anto's new mural at Irving Middle School, expected to be 600 to 800 feet long. Original all around, "Vortex" bucked the trend for murals. Not only is it abstract, but it's actually not a painting or drawing but a durable fabric attached to the wall. Dignowity Hill residents initially received the idea with chilly skepticism, but they eventually came around and embraced it. And since then, it has grown into a lasting symbol of neighborly friendship."Its artistic meaning is subject to interpretation," noted Rodriguez, "but what has held up is its relevance."