Golden Age in Phil Hardberger Park
Like many of Anne Wallace’s public commissions, Golden Age, addresses life growing up in a Texas ranching family, Wallace sought to engage the natural and agricultural history of the land that has become Phil Hardberger Park.
Anne Wallace explains the inspiration and symbolism of Golden Age…
For more than 100 years this land was a family dairy farm and cattle ranch. Before that it was part of an enormous prairie ecosystem shaped by two elemental forces: grass fires and the mass migration of buffalo. The trackless and seemingly boundless "prairie sea" awed and disoriented pioneers as they traveled west. In the 1870s, as part of the campaign to exterminate the Plains Indians or force them onto reservations, buffalo were hunted to near extinction: from 1872 – 1874 alone, approximately 4.5 million bison were killed and left rotting on the plains. Wildfire was suppressed as agriculture and settlements spread.
Using off-the-shelf side-roll irrigator wheels clad in custom reflective hardware, Golden Age creates a flickering effect that alludes to the natural phenomenon of wildfire. As Hardberger Park's restored grassland matures, the gold will appear to hover just above the prairie, using the sun and wind to bounce light off the tops of the grasses. I hope that my work will draw the eye and the imagination out into the restored savanna and encourage contemporary viewers to appreciate its beauty and reflect on the course of our relationship to the natural world.
The title of the work refers to its color but is also somewhat ironic. The earliest attested reference to a golden age is 6th century Greek poet Hesiod's description of a good and noble era before the invention of the arts and private property, when the earth's abundance provided for all and people lived communally and in harmony with nature.
Wallace lives and works in San Antonio. She was chosen from a group of artists and commissioned to create a work for Hardberger Park after consideration by a panel representing the city’s art community, the San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department and the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.
Wallace was selected to participate in Artpace’s International Artist-in Residence program in 2004 and has received awards including a San Antonio Artist Foundation grant in 2006. She has exhibited work in the United States, Mexico and Northern Ireland and is in the collections of the City of San Antonio, the Museo Alameda Smithsonian, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and City of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Other works in San Antonio by Anne Wallace:
Everything was close, South Presa Street, 2004
Glorieta, Brackenridge Park, 2005
Unofficial History, Florida Street from South St. Mary’s to I-37, 2008
The Once and Future River, San Antonio Riverwalk Mission Reach, the pedestrian bridge at Mission Concepción, 2010