Travis Park was a place, prior to this week, most would describe as having potential. An oasis of quiet introspection smack dab in the middle of a bustling downtown. It was hard for most people to enjoy the space because of issues that arose from crimes committed against citizens and tourists that ventured into it, and a general sense of neglect perpetrated against the space itself.
Food trucks on Jefferson
Earlier this week, the “new” Travis Park was unveiled to the good people of San Antonio. The park was closed in January and work commenced by organizations in both the public and private sectors. The goal, as our mayor so eloquently laid out, was to create a “vibrant community hub in the heart of downtown.” Sounds like a lofty ambition, and after having visited the park a few days ago, one that feels like we are well on the way to ultimately obtaining.
Encouraging points of interest included food trucks lining the Park on Jefferson St., a mini book station set up by Half-Price Books that was checking out selections to interested parties, DJ Gibb spinning records primarily in rotation on KRTU, local workers having lunch and subjecting themselves to a quick respite from the meandering confines of life at the office, and a general sense of curiosity from passersby from all walks of life.
Travis Park or Alice in Wonderland?
Travis Park needed the revamp. San Antonio needed the revamped Travis Park. This is going to be a fruitful, symbiotic relationship in the coming years. Food trucks and DJ’s are cool, but when happenings of that nature combine to enrich the lives of San Antonians and the people who visit this place alike, only great things will come of it. Events are planned for most of the days in this month.
The bent of this blog post seems to be serene spaces; Rosella Coffee Co. is no exception. Located on that fabulous stretch of Jones just off Broadway that is home to the San Antonio Museum of Art and The Luxury, Rosella does a lot of things and after my first visit, I can confirm that it does a few things I experienced quite well.
I arrived there after one of those productive, sweat-producing, extremely focused and strangely diligent bike rides one afternoon. So focused, in fact, that I didn’t even feel like drinking alcohol. Say it ain’t so! Ah but alas, it is. Luckily for me, their focus isn’t exactly on alcohol (yet). The bar at this place boasts somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 taps and a small bottled beer selection all mostly focused on Texas craft. I didn’t get a chance to peruse the wine list, but from what I hear, it too is mostly focused on Texas vineyards.
Menu on walls like murals
My motivation to visit was of a different kind. I didn’t approach it with any anticipation. A couple of people I know work there and that’s all I’d really heard about the place. I had a book in my backpack for almost a month that went regretfully unopened due to the lack of quiet space in my life. It’s a short book, lent to me by a friend that loves to read (TROUPER!). I was in search of a quiet place. I was in search of a place that would fuel my desire to not be bothered, a place unfamiliar to me that still felt comfortable. Beyond all of that, I was looking for a place where I could get a goddamned good cup of coffee. Enter Rosella.
The space inside is immaculately repurposed. Industrial and functional in it’s initial feel and look, the people responsible for making the interior into what it is now did a bang up job. It happens all the time, but I still, to this day, am awestruck at how seamlessly concrete, steel, and brick make for comfortable surroundings of the most intimate kind. I feel at home at this place. I hurriedly snapped a few photos while waiting for my coffee, but like most things worth seeing, the photos do the space no justice. Go here and let the compellingly relaxed atmosphere wash over you.
Courtyard of solitude
Pretty dinner menu
I sat down outside in the beautiful, spacious, and quiet courtyard that makes up one side of the exterior part of the building. I sipped my coffee, and I read the book my friend lent me with a gusto I haven’t felt in a long time. I can’t attribute it all to Rosella, but for a month now I’ve struggled to find a time and place to sink my teeth into the read, and I finally found it on that storied stretch of Jones just off Broadway. In the past when life overwhelmed, I escaped to SAMA to get lost among history and art. Or to The Luxury for shade under a tree and a pitcher of some fine, local craft beer. My excitement at finding a new place to combat the sensory overload of life is palpable.
And man, they sure do make a damn fine cup of coffee.
Albert Alvarez currently has an exhibit running at Bihl Haus Arts (2803 Fredericksburg Rd.) that I had the pleasure of viewing last week. I met Albert about three years ago at The Friendly Spot. I would bartend at the back bar, back when there were six taps as opposed to the forty eight we currently have now at the second bar, and he would sit quietly at a corner of the bar and sip a few pints while sketching in his book. He was a quiet guy that seemed disinterested in the usual bar banter that occurs at local watering holes.
After a few months of seeing him around, the day came when I decided to engage him and ask what he was doing in that little book of his all the time. He handed it over to me and my jaw hit the ground. I saw the most intricate drawings I’d ever seen that illustrated sheer beauty and devestating horror juxtaposed on the same page that ran for pages and pages. I became a devout fan of his work in the few short minutes it took me to flip through his sketchbook.
Later on, I found out he has work on display at SAMA, that we shared several mutual friends, and that this guy was a true, incredibly talented, bona fide local artist. Most of his work is done simply; ink on paper. His messages, however, are complex and detailed. He draws ugly sentiments, illustrates debauchery, and taps into wretched convolutions that he sees and has seen in everyday life. San Antonio is truly privileged to have a gem like him here. His current show is a must-see and runs through May 3rd with gallery hours being Fridays and Saturdays from 1 pm to 4 pm or by appointment.
That’s all I have for you this week, folks. Happy First Friday, have a great weekend, and I hope to see you all soon.