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Explaining “The Grotto” art installation in San Antonio

Have you visited this part of Museum Reach?

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Need a place to walk your pup? The Museum Reach is dog-friendly.

Photo by SATXtoday team

Have you ever wondered what this surrealistic cave-like structure is doing on the Museum Reach or how it came into existence? No, it isn’t just some unexplainable natural phenomenon, but rather one of San Antonio’s best-kept secrets hidden in plain sight — welcome to The Grotto.

What is it?

  • The Grotto is a public art installation + a permanent addition to the Museum Reach commissioned by the San Antonio River Foundation.
  • It was created by local faux bois (false wood) concrete artist Carlos Cortés in 2009.
  • You can watch the creation of this work — including an action shot of Carlos enjoying a paleta — on YouTube.
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Walk too fast and you might miss this hidden gem.

Photo by SATXtoday team

What to look out for…

  • Father Nature’s Waterfall: Tucked away in a small nook you can find the (easily) most overlooked aspect of this sculpture.
  • Stalagmites and stalactites: Don’t forget to look up and around the “cave” to appreciate the masterful and eerily-realistic artificial atmosphere.
  • Faces on the walls: Ever heard of a Hidden Mickey? Make a game with your friends by trying to find as many faces as you can (bonus points if you can find the giant jaguar head).

Public art for public use…

  • The Grotto is not only an object to watch + take pictures of; it was also created with functionality in mind.
  • The three-story sculpture is a natural cooling area for visitors on the lowest level.
  • It also features benches, recessed lighting, and a picnic area that anyone is welcome to use.
  • Directly across the river on the street level you’ll find a palapa with benches sprouting from wood — carved in concrete, that is — where you can rest before heading on your way.
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The Grotto also engages the auditory senses with the sounds of water.

Photo by SATXtoday team

Make sure to stop by this installation next time you’re around the Pearl District.

Bonus: Just a short walk away along the Museum Reach, you can find F.I.S.H. by Donald Lipski under the I-35 Overpass near Camden Street.

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