“El Capacitor” is a public installation by Michael Anthony García, a commissioned project by TEMPO, the city’s temporary public art initiative.
“El Capacitor” is in East Austin’s Metz Park and thus an official stop on this year’s East Austin Studio Tour. It is one of five TEMPO projects on the tour.
A bright red podium forms the center of García’s installation. The podium is surrounded by flagpoles bearing flags that are stitched together from neighborhood residents’ clothing.
García is an astute and thoughtful artist whose creative and curatoral practice is rooted in timely social issues.
The title “El Capacitor” refers to the nearby decommissioned Holly Street Power Plant, which for half a century belched toxic fumes, leaked chemicals into Lady Bird Lake and was the site of numerous oil spills and fires.
Only after considerable community and citizen action did the Holly Street Power Plant close in 2007.
However, by the mid-aughts, the surrounding neighborhood of modest houses, for generations a predominantly Latino enclave, was already witnessing significant changes as gentrification drew a new demographic — yes, including artists — to the downtown-adjacent neighborhood.
For García, “El Capacitor” is symbol of the community’s potential energy — a symbolic space created to inspire the neighborhood’s longtime residents to amplify their voice.
“El Capacitor” can also be read as a summons for everyone to get out there and talk to each other in a civic space. Its bright podium offers a dignified platform for all voices. And its circle of flags frames a demand for all of us to listen to each other.