Three local artists have been selected to create a floating wetland installation on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake this spring as part of the Trail’s Arts + Culture Plan. In conjunction with community engagement led by Public City and in partnership with Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Art in Public Places, and The Trail Foundation, the Common Waters installation will explore themes of community, creativity, environment, and collaboration. It will incorporate artistic components as well as serve an ecological function.
The artists were chosen from a total of 37 submissions by a selection committee consisting of community leaders, arts leaders, and Trail stakeholders. Each artist will be compensated $5,000 for the project. The artists – Rejina Thomas, Ruben Esquivel, and Taylor Davis – will convene to collaborate in an open studio led by environmental artist Stacy Levy to develop, design, refine, and test models for the installation. Members of the community will then help fabricate the installation on Lady Bird Lake at the Arts + Culture Celebration on May 14, 2022.
Arts + Culture Celebration on May 14
The Trail Foundation will host a three-part event on May 14 to celebrate the unveiling of the Common Waters floating wetland installation.
Morning Launch: 10 a.m.–12 p.m. at Waller Beach Boat Launch
Watch and assist the artist team with the assembly of the floating wetland. The morning launch will have live music and an opportunity to interact with the artists.
Procession: 12 p.m.–1 p.m.
Kayak, paddle board, canoe, walk, bike or run to join and watch the procession as the creation makes its way down Lady Bird Lake to the installation site at Lakeshore Park.
Click to view the installation's procession route
Afternoon Celebration: 12 p.m.–2 p.m. at Lakeshore Park
Upon reaching its final destination, the floating wetland installation will be installed off the shores of Lakeshore Park. The afternoon celebration will include live music, a performance by Body Shift of Art Spark, an opportunity to interact with the artists, and light refreshments.
About Rejina Thomas
Rejina Thomas is a maker of art, connector of culture, and creator of community. Her acclaimed artwork is widely held in many collections around the world and her clients range from Ann Richards, the Democratic National Convention, Human Rights Commission, to the Queen of England. Thomas ignited Austin’s eastside arts scene with her Pine Street Station Studios, and her thought-provoking exhibit Ascension was shown recently at the George Washington Carver Museum in Oct. 2017 through Feb. 2018.
About Ruben Esquivel
Ruben Esquivel is an artist and a creative maker of Mexican, Spanish, and Native American descent born in Austin, Texas. Ruben is a muralist, canvas artist, and designer and credits his exposure to various creative outlets growing up to pursuing a multidisciplinary art career. After studying art history in Italy in 2013, Ruben returned to Austin and completed an internship with a local art collective that led to a full-time position. Since then, Ruben has immersed himself in the creative industry through artist management, event production, mural painting, and graphic design. In 2021, Ruben founded East End Eclectic, a creative agency that serves artists through management services and consulting. His current focus is expanding his portfolio and creating large scale murals in his hometown.
About Taylor Davis
Taylor Davis is a landscape architect, artist, and curator who is passionate about the intersection of landscape and public art. Her work explores how natural and urban environments can be intertwined. She has investigated cultural preservation and land stewardship in the historic Dallas Freedom Community and the possibilities of carbon sequestration in urban landscapes. She also curated the show Exotify Elsewhere with Grace Sanabria, exploring the oppression and exclusion of the culture and bodies of women of color.
About Arts + Culture on the Trail
The Trail Foundation is partnering with the City of Austin's Parks and Recreation Department and the Economic Development Department Art in Public Places Program to prepare an Arts and Culture plan for the Butler Trail to contribute to the space and elevate the user experience, while not overwhelming, distracting, or complicating the environment. The Trail Foundation has organized a talented team of art professionals, community engagement specialists, innovators, and a Brain Trust team of stakeholders from the Austin community to lead this project.
About The Trail Foundation
The Trail Foundation’s mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. The Butler Trail is the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 4.9 million visits every year. Since it was founded in 2003, The Trail Foundation has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail’s infrastructure and environment, while honoring the original vision of the Trail’s founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come. For more information, please visit www.thetrailfoundation.org.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd or like us on Facebook @AustinEconDev and follow @AustinEconDev on Twitter.