Oscar Williams' Photo Journal bio picture
  • My Work • My Passion • My Life

    Welcome to my Blog / Journal.  Thanks for dropping in to look at my work. 

    I'm a photographer living in San Antonio, TX - A Vibrant City Which I Love!! This is my Photo Blog dedicated to sharing the visual vibrance of San Antonio and its people.  

    I'm truly blessed to live here, to have a vocation that's also my avocation.  I love chasing the light, capturing people's emotions, moments of life, the vibrance of commerce and the wonder of our environment. I'll post different photos and projects periodically here along some of those themes.  Hope you enjoy coming back to view.  

    One of my projects is Downtown San Antonio.  I'm busy preparing images for an exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce during Foto-Septiembre.  Look for photos time to time to keep everyone updated.  Hope you will plan to attend.

    Make yourself at home, browse my photos, let me know what you think, tell some friends. 

    Thanks for visiting. Carpe Diem!  Oscar  

The Maverick – Downtown San Antonio

The Maverick Building and the Emily Morgan Hotel which was originally the Medical Arts Building.

Maverick Building 1922, oldest commercial structure on Houston Street and the Emily Morgan Hotel, built as the Medical Arts Building in 1924.

I love both of these buildings and these photos.  They will be in my September photo exhibit, “El Corazón de San Antonio” at the Greater Chamber of Commerce, September 1st – October 28th, 2009.  The opening reception is Tuesday, September 22nd 5:30 – 8:00 pm.

These buildings are part of our historical and cultural heritage of San Antonio.  I love them, their architecture, the signage, the light, color, the repetition but with variances. Just part of what intrigues me and attracts me to downtown SA.  The contrast of the elegance and architecural detailing in the Emily Morgan is such a contrast to the simplicity of the Maverick Building.

The Maverick building is part of a rich family history in San Antonio.  Samuel Maverick moved to San Antonio in March 1835.  He was a signer of The Texas Declaration of Independence, a large land owner and a state legislator.  Maverick County in west Texas was named after him.  It was from his independent thinking that the term “Maverick” came from perhaps as much as his unbranded cattle.  His descendants built the Maverick building in the early 1900s on the site of the Maverick hotel.  His Grandson Maury Maverick served as a Congressman and Mayor of San Antonio.  All of that is way too brief for the contribution this family has made in San Antonio and Texas.  They were responsible in the early 1900’s for a lot of the development on Houston Street.

John McCain called himself a Maverick which was a joke.  He is no Maverick!!!  Here is a NY Times story link regarding:  The Nation – Who You Callin’ a Maverick? – NYTimes.com

The Maverick Building was built in the early 1900’s and is said to be the oldest commercial structure remaining on Houston Street.  After being boarded up for 15 years it was purchased in 1991 by the Maverick Partners Ltd, renovated and opened as apartments in 1996.  A brief history is available here: MAVERICK BUILDING courtesy of Battersby Ornamental who did some of the exterior restoration work.  They do beautiful work, check it out on their site.

The Emily Morgan Hotel was originally built as the Medical Arts Building in 1924  at a cost of 1.5 million by JM Nix who later would build the Nix Hospital (3 years later) and Majestic Building.  In the promotional literature for the Medical Arts building it was described as the finest medical building in the state of Texas and a distinct compliment to the doctors of San Antonio to be able to call it home!

When attending Trinity I went to visit my classmate Jimmy Pipkin’s Grandfather, Dr. Louis Pipkin who maintained his dermatology practice there.  I remember being amazed at the architecture of the building and the operators still running the manual elevators in 1973.  It was renovated in 1976 to became the Landmark office building with some remaining medical but mostly business offices and still with hand operated elevators.  I had friends with offices there and would be taken up to their floor.  In 1984 it was closed, renovated again and reopened as the current Emily Morgan Hotel.  In 1995 I moved into the Gibbs Building to office, not only did it still have manually controlled elevators, but they were operated by two of the original Medical Arts and Landmark Building elevator operators!!  Talk about Déja Vu!!  It really is a small world.  Wonder if any Texas city still has manual elevators being operated today.  The Gibbs closed in 2005 and with it the last hand operated elevators I know of to be in use here in SA.  Just part of the uniqueness of San Antonio which I love.

Hope you enjoy the building histories.  Please plan on going by The Chamber during the exhibit and seeing the large prints of these and other photographs of downtown San Antonio.

July 4th 2009 – Freedom Isn’t Free: A Tribute To Our Armed Forces

Army Patrol

This Fourth of July as we celebrate Independence Day many of our fellow citizens are standing a post somewhere, fighting to keep those freedoms we enjoy.  We would like to take a moment to reflect on their sacrifices for us and say thank you to them.  Hope as you celebrate 4th of July this year, you will take a moment to think of those serving abroad to protect our freedoms.  Their unselfish service gives us all of those we enjoy and more.  We pray that those separated from their family will  be kept safe and out of harms way, that they will soon be united with their love ones and able to enjoy all that makes the US of A great!

Female Navy

San Antonio is often referred to as Military City USA and no wonder with all the installations in our city.  Every day we get to see the fine young men and women who are serving in different branches.  Every Friday the Air Force graduates another class of new airmen.  Yet often we forget these individuals are there or an important part of our city with all the rush rush rush of our own lives.  So let us all pause today to remember and thank these fine Americans.  Without their service to our country past, present and future we would not be able to live in this great country and enjoy out freedoms.  To all of them a big THANK YOU for your unselfish acts of bravery and courage that have insured these gifts bestowed on us as citizens.

M&F Air Force

When traveling I often have been amazed at the number of people who say they served in one branch or another in San Antonio.  These individuals often chose to return to San Antonio following their military careers and have served our city in private capacities.  As a city we have grown and prospered with their continued service in our private sector.  We truly are blessed as Military City USA!

M&F Army

Happy 4th of July to Everyone!   May it be happy and safe.  God Bless the USA!

Army Flag

Downtown Walgreen Drugs to Reopen – Friday, July 3rd!

A long time fixture of downtown San Antonio, the Walgreen Drugs has been closed for remodeling over the last year and a half.  Welcome news to all of us downtowners that they will be reopening soon.  It’s a great redo with a new building which houses Walgreen downstairs and the Nix Hospital offices upstairs. They redid the original signage and replaced it on the building so we have a great mixture of the old and the new. Long a staple of the area they have been missed by downtown workers, residents and tourists.  The new store is going to be larger, increasing from 11,200 sq ft to 13,400 sq ft.  In addition to the pharmacy with a small waiting area, they will have a grocery section (YEAH!) and one-hour photo lab (Should I take my film there??).  Definitely will be the place for us to shop for necessities.  

Walgreen Images Lg

Here are a couple of my photos of Walgreen Drugs before they closed.  I have been looking forward to photographing the new building once they reopened, so will be visiting with my camera again in July and August and post those in the future.  Until then, enjoy the classic Walgreen Drugs of San Antonio.  Thanks for stopping by!!

 

Museo Alameda Exhibit: “American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music”

San Antonio is one of five major production centers of Latino Music featured in the exhibit.San Antonio is one of five major production centers of Latino Music featured in the exhibit. 

 

American Sabor opens at The Museo Alameda today, June 19, 2009 and runs through September 25, 2009.  It explores the influence of post-World War II Latino musicians on American Music.  It features San Antonio as one of the five major production centers of Latino Music in the US: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and San Antonio.  There are over 100 artifacts including Richie Valens Harmony Guitar, a trombone of Willie Carabello, a gown of Celia Cruz, and the guitar, long coat and hat of Doug Sham.  

The American Sabor Music Fest is being staged in Market Square in conjunction with the exhibit.  It is free from 12 noon – 10 pm on Saturday, June 20th, Saturday, July 25th and Saturday, June 19th.   On Fathers Day, Sunday, June 21st admission is free to The Museo.  

For more information:    . : ‘ The Museo Alameda ‘ : .      

Here are a few photos from this morning.

090619_sabor_exhibit_27

090619_sabor_exhibit_03

sabor-composite

San Antonio Riverwalk Extension Opens Saturday, May 30th

This Saturday, May 30th the long awaited Riverwalk extension opens to the public at 10 am. Opening festivities extend through Sunday.  Unlike the noisy Riverwalk loop with all of it’s busy nightlife, the river extension is 1.5 miles of parklike settings.  Known as the Museum Reach this section of the river features the work of eight different artists under and on the eight bridges that cross the river.  People are calling it the most ambitious public art project in the United States!  

Under the IH 35 bridge at night with the Sunfish by Donald Lipiski illuminated.

Under the IH 35 bridge at night with the Sunfish by Donald Lipski illuminated.

I walked the extension Wednesday, then returned to photograph the art work of Donald Lipski from Philadelphia. Lipski has created giant Sunfish that float above the river, through the air under the IH 35 bridge.  Fun during the day, but dramatic as heck at night when they are illuminated from within.  I wanted to show them with their relationship to the new Riverwalk extension but also close-up on the beauty of his work.  

The fish are just one of the exciting art installations on the river.  I will be returning and photographing more of the Museum Reach section of our Riverwalk as time allows, but wanted to share a preview with you now.  Hope if you have time you will attend the opening celebrations.       

The Grand Opening Schedule may be found here:   San Antonio River – Museum Reach – Grand Opening    

Close-up of Donald Lipiski's Sunfish
Close-up of Donald Lipski’s Sunfish
Close-up of Donald Lipiski's Sunfish

Close-up of Donald Lipski's Sunfish

 

Photos of Donald Lipski’s Sunfish on the San Antonio Riverwalk Extension

Sunfish Mirror

 

Two Fish

 

Three Sunfish Close-up

 

San Antonio Museum of Art

Also be sure and check out the San Antonio Museum of Art on Saturday.   They have just completed a new entrance on the Riverwalk where the barges can ferry people to and from the museum.  Admission is half price Saturday with all of the artists talking about their work from 1:00  pm til 3:00 pm.  Here’s a link to SAMA’s schedule for the Museum Reach Public Opening:   San Antonio Museum of Art

San Antonio Museum of Art's new Riverwalk entrance.

San Antonio Museum of Art's new Riverwalk entrance.

There is so much to see on the new Museum Reach section of our Riverwalk.  I’ve just scratched the surface of what there is to photograph.  Will return in the weeks ahead and post more when ready.  Carlos Cortés’ Grotto was not running yet our definitely would have photographed it as well.  Recommend to everyone to come check it out themselves, you owe it to yourself.  

Want to say a BIG THANKS to everyone who made this dream a reality!!  We as a city have grown richer because of your vision and hard work. Thanks to the private donors who helped fund the project.  To Mayor Hardberger who pushed it through.  To SARA the San Antonio River Authority who oversaw the project.  Thanks to Ford Powell & Carson for their great design work.  To Zachry the construction company who constructed the channel.  Thanks to all the workers who built this with their labor and pride.   To the San Antonio River foundation which helped raise money.  Thanks to the artists for the uplifting of our spirits and enrichment of lives through their art.  Thanks to the city, countyand federal  governments that worked together to make this a reality.  Now next the Mission Reach!  Sure I have left people out, but a big thanks to all.  We truly are blessed because of your work and vision.  THANKS!!  

 

_

Prairie Thunder Baking Co

Wanted to give a shout out to my good friend John McBryde and his Oklahoma City bakery.  He’s a Texas and San Antonio transplant in OKC. John and I were running buddies at Trinity University in SA along with his wife Marla, his brother Mark and Mark’s wife Barbara. John’s brother along with their parents Oliver and Betty all live here in San Antonio.  

Inside Prairie Thunder Bakery early one morning.  Some neighbors in the background enjoying the early morning time to visit.

Inside Prairie Thunder Bakery early one morning. Some neighbors in the background enjoying the early morning time to visit.

Prairie Thunder is located in the Historic Plaza Court building located in Mid-Town.  It’s a lot like our King William or Monte Vista areas. John bakes some of the best Artisan Breads and Pastries I have ever eaten. I remember him baking bread at Trinity.  What started out as his hobby has become his passion and a new career in Prairie Thunder Bakery. Always great when a dream becomes reality!! 

I was in OKC recently on a shoot and got to see him and the bakery even though only briefly.  Had the best Cheese Danish I can remember in forever.  So here some photos of him and his bakery.  If in OKC stop in and enjoy a pastry or a bite for lunch.  You won’t be disappointed.  

John designed the Art Deco interior to go with the Plaza Court history.  He built all the woodwork in the bakery and the light fixtures. Has such a nice feel as a place to just relax with coffee.

John designed the Art Deco interior to go with the Plaza Court history. He built all the woodwork in the bakery and the light fixtures. Has such a nice feel as a place to just relax with coffee.

 

What can you say?  Just some of the goodies!

What can you say? Just some of the goodies!

 

John has this amazing French deck oven. It weighs 18,000 pounds and heats up to 430 degrees! The decks are heated from below and above with steam. He starts baking early around 4 am to get ready for his customers.

John has this amazing French deck oven. It weighs 18,000 pounds and heats up to 430 degrees! The decks are heated from below and above with steam. He starts baking early around 4 am to get ready for his customers.

 

Fresh out of the oven and cooling.

Fresh out of the oven and cooling.

The variety of breads was great!

The variety of breads was great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was such a delight being there that morning.  We found John and his staff just enjoying themselves, having fun baking breads and preparing foods for lunch. So nice to be in a neighborhood shop with a lot of wonderful people enjoying the morning together. The energy was terrific!  Met friends and neighbors who were coming in to pick-up something or just say hi.  Reminded us of the era past in Plaza Court!  

Here’s the website   Prairie Thunder Baking Co.     If you stop in sometime, please give John a big hi from me!

Downtown SA is Growing!!

I’m busy photographing Downtown San Antonio.  Wow you can see the growth all around.  Few signs of recession here! 

San Antonio Construction

Hotels alone are leading the construction with high rise condos right behind.  The Riverwalk expansion will be opening in a week.  Times are good in SA.  Here’s a photo from the Grand Hyatt construction days.  

Please keep dropping by as I update my blog with more photos of my Downtown Project and photos of other projects.