Crafty San Antonio draws crowd with portal
- By John Monroe
- Jul 02, 2001
San Antonio's spring launch of an online gallery for regional artists and
artisans made a splash, generating more traffic its first week than any
storefront could handle.
The Catalog of On-site Artist Services (www.ci.sat.tx.us/cosas), in the
works for nearly three years, registered more than 500,000 hits its first
week, benefiting from a pre-launch marketing campaign and an Internet-friendly
city culture, said James LeFlore, program manager for the city's Public
Art and Design Enhancement Program.
"The rally around promoting yourself on the Internet has become increasingly
evident in San Antonio over the last couple years," LeFlore said. "People
are really keyed in right now to checking it out."
The Web site features individuals or groups creating art for the "built"
environment that is, for incorporation into buildings, landscapes or public
spaces. Oscar Alvarado, for example, designs and builds mosaic-laden tables
and chairs made of steel or concrete. Cathy Cunningham specializes in neon
and stained and etched glass.
Visitors can peruse the site by artist or medium. The site is not designed
to handle online transactions but simply to give architects, engineers,
city planners or private citizens an opportunity to see the work available
and put them in contact with the artists, via mail, phone or, most likely,
"You can accomplish a lot through e-mail, so you don't have to travel and
do studio visits," LeFlore said. For example, beyond the one or two pictures
available on the Web site, many artists can send electronic images to potential
clients. Otherwise, such business "is difficult to obtain if you don't have
The site stems from a neighborhood revitalization initiative in 1998.
A committee, created by the City Council, suggested creating a catalog to
promote San Antonio's vibrant craft-making industry. Although a print edition
is also available, the city decided an online catalog would be easier to
distribute and update.
City officials mailed postcards to architects, engineers, neighborhood associations
and city leaders before the May 14 launch, which generated local radio and
TV coverage despite competing with a San Antonio Spurs playoff basketball