UTSA architecture group, panelists, explore the meaning of Puro in symposium at Brick on Feb. 21

WHAT: Dr. Antonio Petrov, assistant professor in the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, invites San Antonio to engage in dialogue to gather a broad understanding of Puro. We hope to shed some light onto its meaning and how it materializes through the lenses of art, music, graffiti, performance, religion, cultural history, film, marketing, fashion, social media, TV, philosophy, food, and literature. The symposium, which includes UTSA masters students, will be led by community members who embody the term.

Cruz Ortiz
Tomas Ybarra Frausto
Hector Saldaña
Claudia Guerra
Bill FitzGibbons
Luis Muñoz
Brenda Muñoz
Elizabeth Pearson
Denise F.B. Richter
Marcos Hernandez
Siboney Diaz-Sanchez
Christine Drennon

WHEN: 6:00pm Tuesday, February 21

WHERE: Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex, Bldg. 108, 1414 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78210


Puro |ˈpo͝orō|

The statement San Antonio is “Puro” is possibly a provocation. A city the size of San Antonio with all its cultural layers is so much more than one term could describe, but yet, Puro exemplifies something that belongs to all of us; an expression; attitude; a cultural sensibility; betterment; collective accomplishments; something precious the city is dearly holding on to. It means something to everyone with multiple layers and multiple understandings, but its duality also allows for individual interpretations. For some, it is reflected in rituals, art, tastes, values, craftsmanship, aesthetics, and a certain sense of authenticity. For others, it is an underlying vibe or lifestyle that exemplifies the cultural fabric of San Antonio. Of all things, however, it is a collective expression and an individual identity, or a way of participating in a city that filters through all parts of public life. Architecture, as such, and the way its physical manifestations are contributing to how people use, create, and live in space, one could argue, has not embraced what characterizes Puro. The aesthetics of Puro are mentioned in relation to artistic movements such as expressionism, minimalism, and surrealism. In architectural discourses, however, Puro’s underlying aesthetic could be considered kitsch, hypernormal, or ordinary; architects fear to design something that could be considered ordinary, kitsch, or not special. Though Puro defies categorization and is ubiquitous to San Antonio this one-day symposium, which includes UTSA masters students, aims to recover what makes and shapes it and how this might translate into understanding the environment not as a given, but one that is a politically, economically, and culturally contested invention. Through the lenses of art, music, graffiti, performance, religion, cultural history, film, marketing, fashion, social media, TV, philosophy, food, and literature we hope to explore values, attitudes, and cultural sensibilities and how they have materialized in the relationship between the social and the physical shaping of our city.

As San Antonio is “on the edge of future” and contemporary urban design is not only a matter of iconic architecture and ambitious masterplans, we argue, Puro is an entrance into a conversation about the city. It is also about social equity and cultural sustainability through which formal and informal practices not only shape the environment but also address urban problems and inequalities. Perhaps Puro is the recognition of a “new urban frame of mind” that nurtures the thought of a city that could be moving forward with designers that embody emancipatory processes of how we think together, experiment, collaborate, and cooperate in open and active processes of shaping and defining urban space as we are straddling the edge of future. We hope to initiate dialogue and discuss possible ways to integrate the social and cultural fabric into new ways to co-design, co-produce, co-own, and co-manage the spaces we live in. This, of course, raises the question of the role of the architect and planner in the process of developing these alternative models of urban habitation. As a result we hope this symposium can identify alternative models, ideas, and actionable objectives that build on local know-how, craftsmanship, cultural sensibilities, attitudes, and interests and thus have more direct relationships and a more Puro way of critically mediating between ethical positions and aesthetic formulations.

— Dr. Antonio Petrov