Throughout the city of San Antonio you will find the work of Dionicio Rodriguez, carried on by his great nephew, Carlos Cortés: Faux Bois, or, false wood. In Mexico it is often referred to as trabajero rustico (rustic work) but it all means the same thing: concrete formed to look like wood and other natural materials. The texture and coloring are amazing: you will not believe it is not “real.”
Rodriguez was born in Toluca, near Mexico City, in 1891. In about 1924 he moved to San Antonio to find work. Rodriguez’s first client in San Antonio was Dr. Aureliano Urrutia. Rodriguez created at least nine cement sculptures for Dr. Urrutia’s gardens (now Miraflores Park, 1184 E. Hildebrand across from the University of Incarnate Word.) Rodriguez completed many other cement sculptures in Brackenridge Park, Stone Werks Cafe in the Quarry Market, Alamo Heights and the Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua (102 Lorenz.) The best-known works are the gates for the Japanese Tea Garden and the footbridge in Brackenridge Park near the Hildebrand entrance (pictured above.)
The most intriguing contemporary installation is on the Museum Reach section of the River Walk, across the river from The Pearl, at Lexington. You enter under a frightening jaguar head, pass under a waterfall . . . it’s lovely and unique.
The Taller (Studio) Cortés is at 1101 S St Mary’s St, in the “baja” King William area, at the corner of Perieda. Peek through the fence and see hundreds of examples.