By Keva Hoffmann Boardman —
The recently unveiled “Legacy of Our Journey” mural on Main Plaza got me thinking about public art in our city. I have always considered New Braunfels to be an historic city, but what if I broadened my thinking and started looking at it as a city full of art, too?
The eight Historic Outdoor Art Museum (HOAM) wall murals offer a great overview of our community, its people and its culture. All but two are right downtown. But I’ve been looking at the town with different eyes for a few weeks, and I’ve found that there is A LOT of outdoor public art here. It comes in the form of wall murals and paintings and hidden figural sculptures in gardens and parking lots. Our creativity is even shown in special constructions that inspire faith.
After cruising the streets really looking for outdoor public art, this is what I have found … at least so far!
Wall murals and paintings occur on random buildings around the city. You will find pictures of food, German words and a family on the side of Freiheit Store. The Hoity Toit Beer Joint has a cartoon-like mural of a man in an airplane. Painted deer graze quietly in a field on the side of McBee’s BBQ. Planet K has an amazing and colorful NB Postcard on one side and a unique depiction of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” on the other (this is my favorite!). There is a wall painted with the Guadalupe River at Riverside Lodge and German gentlemen on the side of the Phoenix Saloon. Sts. Peter & Paul School has a whole wall of school activities painted on the back by the Thrift Store parking lot. A matador faces a bull on the front of the Monterrey Café and is that a Frenchman on the back of the New Braunfels Art League building? How many of these have you seen?
Figural sculpture is also abundant in our fair community and occurs at places of business, in public parks and at churches. If you are looking for animals—we’ve got you covered. There is a busy beaver at Buc-ee’s, a belligerent bull at River Hofbrau, a polite pig at Huisache Grill, a unique unicorn at the NBISD Administration Building, a devoted dog at the NB Police Department, and lovely Lindsey or “Girl with deer” at the NB Public Library— all cast in bronze. Quite a list, right?
We have people represented in our public art as well. A bronze family overlooks the lake from the top of the Pioneer Memorial in Landa Park. A stone Civil War soldier and a zinc WWI soldier stand guard over our community on Main Plaza. A bronze Prince Carl greets both citizens and tourists in front of the Civic Center. I found a bronze sculpture of children sitting on a log in front of a medical center over on Lakeview Blvd. There is a stunning bronze relief of the first Sophienburg on the Centennial Cenotaph in Landa Park; and I can’t leave out the awesome cast metal beauty of our beloved Plaza Fountain. It has a little bit of everything — – plants, shells, animals, and a beautiful lady.
Our Catholic churches are also great promoters of outdoor public art. Holy Family boasts an enchanting stone sculpture of the Holy Family at their front door. The grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help showcase two life-size, stunningly white stone sculptures: “Jesus Crucified” and the “Crowned Virgin with Child”. The prayer garden of Sts. Peter & Paul is the site of “Jesus with the Little Children.” Standing calmly in a corner at Christus-Santa Rosa Hospital is another statue of, you guessed it, the Virgin Mary.
New Braunfels is also blessed with three grottoes—little stacked-stone mountains or Los Cerritos—one at each of our Catholic churches. While meant for contemplation and celebration, these hand-made constructions are, indeed, art. Holy Family and Our Lady of Perpetual Help have wonderful local stone grottoes depicting the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A grotto with Our Lady of Lourdes graces the grounds behind Sts. Peter & Paul. I think I’m going to have to do a story on grottoes…
If you know of any other outdoor public art, please contact the Sophienburg Museum at 830-629-1572 or post a photo to our Facebook page. Public art honors our community’s past, adds color and culture to our daily lives and will be educating our citizens and visitors for years to come.
And, it’s beautiful!