Lupe bass

From left: Kerrville Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director Ashlea Boyle, Main Street Advisory Board Chairwoman Rose Bradshaw, sculptor GiGi Miller and Kerrville Mayor Bonnie White welcome the third and newest public art project to its home near the fountain plaza in Louise Hays Park. 

The piece — “Lupe” the Guadalupe bass — was unveiled in a 4 p.m. dedication ceremony Tuesday.

“Lupe” the Guadalupe bass sculpture has swum into its new home this week and now resides beside the Guadalupe River.

“As you can see, he looks like he’s ready for a big swim,” said Rose Bradshaw, chairwoman of the Kerrville Main Street Advisory Board. 

About 100 people gathered in Louise Hays Park Tuesday afternoon to watch the unveiling and dedication of the sculpture, which is placed near the park’s fountain plaza. The bass is covered in blue and green mosaic tiles, several of which were designed by Kerrville citizens in August 2016.

The sculpture is the third public art project for the MSAB and was funded from proceeds at the Mardi Gras and the Main Street Moonlight fund. 

In 2000, the city council approved a public art policy, which Bradshaw said helped establish a road map to encourage art in public spaces.

“Kerrville has long been known as an art haven, with fabulous art galleries, wonderful art centers and a robust performing arts community,” Bradshaw said. “Unfortunately, we have all that around us, but not among us.”

The goal of the sculpture is to attract viewers — including visitors — to interact with the community.

Bee Cave resident GiGi Miller constructed the 8’ 6’’ long, 7’ tall and 5’ wide sculpture. 

Artists from throughout Texas were invited to submit proposals for a sculpture that expressed the cultural, geographical and historical significance of Kerrville, Bradshaw said. 

“We all concluded that her vision on design gave all of us on the board the sense that she was able to express the significance of our vision to the community,” Bradshaw said. “By naming the sculpture Lupe, it tied it in to our beautiful river.”

Miller said she grew up in Gonzalez but visited Kerrville at least once a year for camps.

“Many of my finest childhood memories were in the limestone hills and on the banks of the Guadalupe,” she said. “I caught my first bass while at camp here, and while I was not educated enough at the time to know whether it was a Guadalupe bass, it was a fabulous thrilling fight, and I was so proud.”

The Guadalupe bass is the official state fish, and Megan Bean with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said she has worked for several years to conserve the Guadalupe bass. 

She said the fish, which is found primarily in Hill Country streams, is linked to the health of the river.

“It’s inspiring to see the city of Kerrville’s recognition of Guadalupe bass as an iconic symbol of what makes the Hill Country and this community unique,” Bean said.

Kerrville City Council approved a proposal by the Main Street Advisory Board in September 2015 to have the sculpture made. Mayor Bonnie White, who was a councilwoman at the time, said the sculpture was originally plotted to be placed in downtown Kerrville.

“In retrospect, it was a great decision to move it to (the park) where it more appropriately fits the theme of the river and definitely fits into the river trail project,” White said.

Dave Martin, member of the MSAB, gave the invocation.

“We have been blessed with a beautiful river right in the middle of Kerrville, and we are responsible for keeping it vibrant and healthy for future generations to enjoy,” he said. 

Miller said her love of art is tied to her love of nature, and encouraged people, especially children, to remain creative.

“Keep playing in the mud and keep making art,” Miller said. “It’s important and it adds beauty and smiles and wonder to the world.”

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