Capturing Nature
The Cement Sculpture of Dionicio Rodríguez
Natural History - Art
9.5 x 10, 152 pp.
111 color photos., 22 b&w photos., 1 color painting., 4 b&w drawings., 1 map.
Pub Date: 02/11/2008
Rio Grande/Río Bravo: Borderlands Culture and Traditions
Price:        $30.00


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2008 Ron Tyler Award, presented by the Texas State Historical Association
2008 Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Architecture through the Media in Honor on John G. Flowers Honorary AIA, presented by the Texas Society of Architects

Capturing Nature

The Cement Sculpture of Dionicio Rodríguez

By Patsy Pittman Light

Over a period of some twenty years, Mexican-born artisan Dionicio Rodríguez created imaginative sculptures of reinforced concrete that imitated the natural forms and textures of trees and rocks. He worked in eight different states from 1924 through the early 1950s but spent much of his early career in San Antonio, where several of his creations have become beloved landmarks. More than a dozen of Rodríguez’s works have been included on the National Register of Historic Places. Patsy Pittman Light has spent a decade documenting the trabajo rústico (“rustic work”) of Rodríguez, along with its antecedents in Europe and Mexico, and the subsequent work of those Rodríguez trained in San Antonio. Rodríguez’s unique and unusual art will fascinate those new to it and delight those to whom it is familiar. San Antonio sites such as the bus stop on Broadway, the faux bois bridge in Brackenridge Park, and the “rocks” on the Miraflores Gate at the San Antonio Museum of Art, along with the Old Mill at T. R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock and Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, are just a few of the locations covered in this volume celebrating the life and work of a Latino artisan. Students and devotees of Texas and Southwestern art will welcome this book and its long-overdue appreciation of this artist. Additionally, this book will commend itself to those interested in Latino studies, art history, and folklore.

Patsy Pittman Light, artist and former public school teacher and college lecturer, served as chair of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Commission and was honored as a “Texas Hero of Historic Preservation” by the San Antonio Conservation Society. She lives in San Antonio

What Readers Are Saying:

“Patsy Pittman Light, the author, chose a photo of a fallen black locust tree designed as a bridge over a stream as her book’s cover. The image captures the essential creativity of a fine artist--form and composition--in the medium of concrete . . . The book is ultimately a catalog of the work of Dionicio Rodríguez, beautifully illustrated in a way that gives the reader a feel for his sculptural legacy. . .  A new appreciation will follow from perusing this book, and from visiting Rodríguez sculptures with fresh senses.”--Arkansas Democrat Gazette

“Ms. Light thoroughly conveys the charms of the art and the artist, noting that his sense of humor clearly showed through pieces such as the conch shell entrance wall at the Eddingston Court apartments in Port Arthur and the fountain embellished with human faces at Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis. Her writing, like the work she chronicles, is refreshingly spare and lean, notably deficient in the glowing adjectives so common to the discussion of art.”--Dallas Morning News

"Brilliantly conceived, thoroughly researched, and handsomely illustrated, Patsy Light's book on Mexican-American folk artist Dionicio Rodríguez clearly defines the artist as an ingenious designer, a superb craftsman, and a valuable cultural broker. Her publication is essential to the libraries of those interested in folk art, Texas history, Mexican-American studies, landscape architecture, cultural frontiers, and a host of other subjects."--Marion Oettinger, Jr.; The Betty and Bob Kelso Director, San Antonio Museum of Art

“Patsy Light's subject is Dionicio Rodríguez, a folk artist who introduced an imaginative art genre to the Southwest with his cement faux bois creations. Light traces the life of Rodríguez from the Great Depression years to the 1950s when he gained fame as a rustic artisan winning commissions for his unique art in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic coast. Light provides keen insight into the life of Rodríguez, a pioneer Hispanic artist and naturalist. Her study assures us that Rodíriguez's success in lifting public art to new heights of visibility and appreciation are not forgotten.”--Ricardo Romo, President, The University of Texas at San Antonio


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