Orange Thingy

The Orange Thingy. In Spanish it is called, “La Antorcha de la Amistad;” in English it is called, “The Torch of Friendship.” This is the second urban art piece created by Mexican sculptor, Sebastian, that I encountered in San Antonio, Texas. The first one was UNAMITA.

La Antorcha de la Amistad

La Antorcha de la Amistad: A Colorful Blend of Math, Geometry and Human Emotion

When preparing for our family’s first visit to San Antonio, I spent time researching alternatives to the requisite visit to The Alamo. Naturally, I considered images shared on social media sites. One photographer who captured this iconic sculpture called it the “Orange Thingy.” I wanted to see it for myself.

I had to find out where it was located, and what it was actually named. Queue the San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture website. There I found an excellent interactive Public Art San Antonio (PASA) map of public artworks. It gave me all sorts of leads. Incredibly, the list of public artworks takes up nearly 18 pages!

This colossal 65-foot orange lollipop of a monument is an abstract sculpture located the center of a traffic circle in downtown San Antonio. The tall form is quite striking. Though I enjoyed viewing it from many angles, this view offered the best lighting at the time of my visit.

A torch is an emblem of both enlightenment and hope. The color orange is extroverted. It embodies social communication, stimulation and determination. I read on a pop psychology site that orange aids in the assimilation of new ideas and frees the spirit of its limitations. I also read that it encourages self-respect and respect of others.

In light of those ideas, the piece is all the more interesting and important than ever before. The bold artwork was presented as a gift from the Mexican government to the City of San Antonio in 2002. It symbolizes cooperation and shared cultures. See how there are two lines that rise and become connected?

I’ve read that the traffic circle where La Antorcha was planted is formerly a location where prisoners were executed who were captured during the Battle of the Alamo.

The United States of America and Mexico share a complicated history, and the partnership story that is still unfolding is no less complex. I appreciate that this big bold statement in a prominent urban landscape testifies to our interconnectedness, or interconexión, as it is in Spanish. The height and defiantly prominent color makes The Torch installation hard to ignore. It’s a contemporary masterpiece. It invites viewing from different points-of-view from 360 degrees around the rotary. The Torch doesn’t look the same from any vantage point.

The United States and Mexico share inextricably intertwined cultures, especially in our border region. It’s hard to fathom ever needing a prominent visual metaphor to express the existence of our nations’ friendship, trading partnership, and cultural alliances. This Orange Thingy reminds that we can not afford to take each other for granted. We must be mindful of our mutual interests and our friendship.

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