Preview: Public Art Commission for Gardens at San Juan

09 Apr
April 9, 2015

While Great Lakes Metal Works has been in business for 25 years, a fact that we are quite proud of, the owners of the company have been making art for much longer than that.  Prior to moving to Chicago, Richard and Donna lived in San Antonio, which is where Donna and another artist friend and colleague are breaking ground on a public art commission at the Gardens of San Juan, a development of the San Antonio Housing Authority.

A major developer and apartment manager, NRP Group, has partnered with the San Antonio Housing Authority to revitalize the San Juan neighborhood. The development is a mixed-finance, mixed-income community, consisting of multi-family units, public housing, market units and commercial space. Thus, the Gardens of San Juan was established.  The first two phases have already proved the collaboration successful.  Now the team has invited Donna Zarbin-Byrne and Diana Rodriguez Gil to create an installation that will serve as a focal point for the new outdoor area in the neighborhood.

Donna says the drawings in the prospectus suggested that it could be a multi-installation project, but that her and Diana developed the artwork specifically so that participants would move throughout the space both physically and conceptually. The concept for the entire art project is based on the cyclical movement of the community throughout many generations. The history of this neighborhood is expressed through iconic imagery and symbols. Donna and Diana will work with residents to integrate family stories, children’s drawings and artwork into various elements of the project.

Diana and Donna spent many hours hatching the ideas for the various elements of the gardens and we are delighted that one of our own is a part of the team.

The Gardens at San Juan is the final component project to complete and anchor the redevelopment activities. It will be a highly visible gathering place for residents and community members because it promotes connectivity among the many amenities onsite and the surrounding community activities.

San Juan Drawings-111314_Page_1

We will provide an insider’s look behind the scenes as the project unfolds, exploring how materials are chosen, what other vendors the team brings on, and how the community will take part in the creation of the garden.

To learn more about Donna’s scope of work or to contact her directly, visit her personal website at

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