Provided by SAWS
Cover Photo by Dr. Ricardo Romo

San Antonio Water System partnered with the Texas Water Foundation on a new Southside water-themed mural by acclaimed artist Cruz Ortiz. The mural, located at 1419 Roosevelt Ave., was showcased at an unveiling event Wednesday, December 14.

Cruz Ortiz is an American Contemporary Artist who uses multiple mediums examining connections to nature, hope, healing, beauty, endurance, and the cosmos. He uses bold graphic screen prints, figurative abstract portraiture, dream-like landscape paintings, temporal guerrilla installations, utilitarian machines, hand carved wood sculptures, large scale public art, video, and performance art. He is interested in the exhausting narratives searching for love and the sense of home land. Ortiz is constantly working in the studio, jumping from traditional studio methods such as painting and sculpture to commercial printmaking and print design projects. Most of his works are created with a sense of exigency, only so he can keep up with the ever evolving ideas and visual manifestos eager to be revealed. Early in his career he would thrash through photography, screen prints and video projects in a very punk skater rasquache manner, which involved staged performances and make-shift projection art parties.

Currently, Ortiz has been exclusively working on painting as a romantic art historical form of documentation. It is through the use of this archaic form that he is taking risks of institutionalizing subject matter. In a time where everything is now digital and virtual, Ortiz is mixing oil paintings and painting from direct observation, while detecting the importance of painting for the future. He is also very interested in how painting pushes the critical contextualization of social political issues. His artistic projects aim to center the periphery to capture moments in history, especially the settler state that has tried, over and over, to erase from collective memory. With a great sense of urgency to record, preserve, and disseminate, he paints.

The mural is the second to be commissioned by the Texas Water Foundation under its statewide water campaign, Texas Runs on Water. The campaign is working to address the state’s growing water supply needs by inspiring Texans to value water.

“We know that teaching the value of water is critical to helping people conserve it,” said Robert R. Puente, SAWS President/CEO. “Cruz Ortiz has done a great job of illustrating that importance going back to San Antonio’s beginnings. It has been a real privilege to both serve on the board of the Texas Water Foundation and to help share this wonderful mural here on the city’s South Side.”

Texas Runs on Water is built on Texas’ strong sense of local pride and is intentionally designed to be localized across the state. In San Antonio, the campaign celebrates the city’s history and its deep connection to water. The artwork features a depiction of the San Antonio River, once known as the Yanaguana River, and the inhabitants who relied on the water source as they shaped and settled the land.

“We are proud to partner with SAWS and work with Cruz Ortiz on a community focused mural,” says Sarah Schlessinger, CEO of the Texas Water Foundation. “Bringing a Texas Runs on Water mural to San Antonio is our way of celebrating and honoring a city deeply connected to water. We hope the mural inspires San Antonians to feel how water continues to shape its story. Everything we love about San Antonio – runs on water”.

In addition to highlighting the importance of water to our community, murals like this one are an important step in investing in and highlighting the importance of our diverse San Antonio communities.

Led by the Texas Water Foundation, Texas Runs on Water (TROW) is a first-of-its-kind statewide water campaign, working to address the state’s growing water supply needs by inspiring all Texans to participate in a viral cultural movement that spurs action and conversation around water. The Texas Runs on Water campaign links the value of water to pride in all things Texas. The state’s thriving economy, wild landscapes, and beloved Texas products and pastimes all exist because of water. Launched in 2021, this campaign is intentionally designed as an umbrella concept that can be localized by region, audience, or water use. TROW has already garnered millions of views in Houston, the Texas Hill Country, and the Panhandle, with plans to expand across the state. The Texas Water Foundation hopes that through this campaign, all Texans will embrace that everything they love about Texas is rooted in water. Learn more at or follow along @TexasRunson Water on Facebook and Instagram, and @TXRunson Water on Twitter and Tiktok.

The Texas Water Foundation is now accepting applications for the Texas Water Leaders Program, an annual leadership program that provides water professionals stepping into positions of leadership with the tools, training, and opportunities to expand their potential. Water professionals from all sectors who are stepping into or are already in positions of leadership should apply by February 15, 2023. A Texas Water Leaders class of 2023 information webinar will be hosted on January 13th at 11 AM for interested applicants who’d like to learn more about the program. Ideal candidates have between 5-15 years of experience in Texas water. More information can be found here

San Antonio Water System provides water and wastewater services to more than 2 million customers in the San Antonio region and continues to set the standard for service and water conservation within our industry. SAWS is the national leader in water innovation with the largest direct recycled water system in the country, a state-of-the-art inland desalination plant, and the largest groundwater-based Aquifer Storage & Recovery facility in the nation.

(Photo Credit: )