Home GardeningGarden Diary More faux bois at San Antonio River Walk and Witte Museum

More faux bois at San Antonio River Walk and Witte Museum


June 14, 2024

I went on a faux bois safari in San Antonio in April, hunting down all the faux bois — locally known as trabajo rústico — that I could find in one day. And I found a LOT. Check out my faux bois post here.

But there’s far more to see in the Alamo City than can fit into one day. So a week later, I gassed up the car, talked my husband and daughter into joining me, and made another day trip to San Antonio. In full tourist mode, we arrived at the River Walk and took a leisurely stroll up and down the romantic canal that runs through the old part of the city.

I found a few benches of trabajo rústico along the way, crafted by Carlos Cortés. Made in realistic imitation of wood, they’re sculpted from concrete.

Carlos also created this tree-like arbor along the River Walk.

We found other public art along the River Walk too, including Donald Lipski’s school of sunfish “swimming” under a bridge. These light up at night, and I wish we’d been able to time our visit to see them illuminated.

Under another bridge, I spotted this tile mosaic of San Antonio’s skyline, complete with the Alamo and Tower of the Americas.

We stopped for a delicious lunch with cocktails on the riverside patio at Domingo. Highly recommend.

The Alamo

Still in tourist mode, we swung by the Alamo for a tour and said hello to Davy Crockett, who died defending it from the Mexican army in 1836.

The Alamo’s weathered limestone facade

The Witte Museum

Next we headed to the Pearl, but I’ll save that for another post. Our last stop of the day was the Witte Museum, which we enjoyed taking our kids to when they were young. I hadn’t been back since the Witte’s extensive renovation was completed in 2017.

After touring the natural history exhibits, we explored the grounds, where I spotted faux bois gateposts that mimic a pair of weathered tree trunks. A yucca sprouts from the top of one.

A sign explains that the gateposts were sculpted in 1930 by Dionicio Rodriguez and Theodore Voss for Elvira Pizzini Guerra. They were eventually donated to the city by her family.

In the children’s adventure area of the Witte, a curved faux bois bench was crafted by Carlos Cortés…

…as was a fabulous treehouse that you can climb up into.

Explora! urges a carved sign in Spanish. We did.

Lifelike tree bark sculpted from concrete

A real-life tree, a bald cypress, grows through the center of faux bois stairs.

Climbing up…

…to the top, where my family was enjoying the view.

Fiesta gowns

Fiesta, a multi-day celebration of San Antonio heritage and culture, was kicking off that week. (We missed all the festivities, unfortunately. One day I must experience what this annual party is all about.) In tribute, the Witte opened an exhibition of gowns and trains worn by Fiesta royalty (like at Mardi Gras? I have no idea), which runs through September 29, 2024.

The Witte’s gown theme is “Fiesta Looks to the Skies,” a nod to the total eclipse that occurred in April:

“This exhibition celebrates our timeless fascination with the heavens, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship and celestial themes woven into each regal garment. From the 1920 blue-green sequined Queen of the Court of Birds gown to the fireworks and skyrockets on the train of the 1965 Duchess of Fiery Festivals, you’ll be transported to the heavens as you admire the artistry and craftsmanship in these stunning works of art.”


This train with flowering agaves and prickly pears was my favorite, naturally.

They were all amazing. I can’t imagine how heavy these velvet and sequined costumes would be to wear.

Art Deco swirls

Clouds with moon and stars

Guys get in on the costume action too.

A flapper-style gown with peacock-tail train

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend a visit to the Witte. Brackenridge Park is right next door with plenty more to see, including some faux bois pieces, plus the zoo and the Japanese Tea Garden.

Up next: Landscaping at the Pearl, a historic brewery complex in San Antonio, and beautiful Hotel Emma.

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