San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Martin Luther King, Jr, left, and Lyndon Baines Johnson, right on March 18, 1966. PHOTO BY Yoichi R. Okamoto

by SEAN BATURA

The LBJ/MLK Memorial Crossroads Project Committee on Thursday announced the artists who are under consideration to design and build a $100,000 memorial funded with City of San Marcos hotel/motel tax dollars.

The memorial, planned for the southwest corner of the LBJ/MLK Drive intersection, is intended to honor the civil rights work of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Baines Johnson. The memorial may eventually include roadway portions of the intersection.

The following artists and artist teams are being considered for the project:

Joseph O’Connell and Blessing Handcock of Tucson, Arizona
Aaron P. Hussey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
CoLAB Studios, LLC of Tempe, Arizona

An evaluation team chose the three artists/teams among 54 who responded to a request for qualifications issued by the City of San Marcos in the spring. The evaluation team consisted of Crossroads committee members, San Marcos Arts Commission members, professional artists, city staff, and other stakeholders.

The city plans to offer stipends to the three finalists so they can visit San Marcos in February. While in San Marcos, they will present their ideas to members of the public during an open house event at the San Marcos Activity Center. The artists will also meet with the Crossroads committee and possibly the evaluation committee.

The Crossroads committee’s current timeline calls for an artist to be chosen as early as March. The San Marcos Arts Commission and city council will likely choose the finalist, said Crossroads committee member Linda Kelsey-Jones.

About $4,000 has been raised for artists stipends, said Crossroads committee member Diann McCabe. The committee will be fundraising to pay for additional costs related to artists stipends, travel, and lodging.

Various city officials over the years have said San Marcos may be the only place in the country where streets bearing the names King and Johnson meet. The creation of a memorial at the LBJ/MLK intersection was discussed as early as 2003, and the idea gained momentum with Texas State University’s 2008-2009 Common Experience theme, “Civic Responsibility and the Legacy of LBJ.”

On Jan. 19, 2009, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the city and county unveiled a sign at the southwest corner of the intersection marking the future memorial site. Hays County gave the corner to the city on the next MLK Day — Jan. 18, 2010.

The LBJ Museum, the Calaboose African American History Museum, and the once-predominantly African-American Dunbar Neighborhood are a few blocks away from the proposed memorial.

According to the city’s request for qualifications document, the planned memorial is intended to:

• Commemorate the legacies of LBJ and MLK, in their separate and collaborative efforts to forge national civil rights legislation.
• Provide a place of rest and reflection.
• Reflect the local significance of LBJ as the only U.S. president to graduate from a Texas
university (namely, Texas State University, then Southwest Texas State Teachers College).
• Celebrate the historic background and the cultural and ethnic diversity of the community.

According to the RFQ, the city’s preferred memorial designs would include:

• An installation that is not overly representational, but may include photographic and/or sculptural representations
• Inspirational quotations
• Seating
• Shade (could be created by landscaping)
• Cultural appeal for all ages and backgrounds
• A drinking fountain (as a symbol and practical element)
• An enclosure away from the traffic (could be created by landscaping)
• Circles and spheres generally preferred over rectangles and cubes

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