The Rev. Jairo Lopez stands next to his sculpture on display in front of the Marble Falls Visitors Center, 100 Ave. G and U.S. 281 in Marble Falls, on July 26. Lopez was selected to create a sculpture that used pieces of the old U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls to represent the past, the present and the future of the city. Staff photo by Jared Fields
JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The Rev. Jairo Lopez knows how to make large, beautiful things out of a collection of smaller individual pieces.
As pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Marble Falls, Lopez works every day to turn the 800 families in his church into a community.As an artist, Lopez loves working with small pieces of glass to form stained-glass mosaics.
That’s why his vision for a sculpture to represent the past, the present and the future of Marble Falls will be seen for generations to come.
“When I work, I always think about a community, because when you put those little pieces together, you create a piece of art,” said Lopez, whose sculpture incorporates steel pieces from the old U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls and sits in front of the city’s visitor center, 100 Ave. G and U.S. 281. “But every piece is different. Different sizes, different colors. When they come together, they create a beautiful piece of art so it represents a community.”
When the bridge was demolished in March, the city searched for an artist to create a sculpture for the visitors center that incorporated the bridge and was a reflection of the city.
“Purely on merit, it was Father Lopez who was selected,” said Bill Rives, executive director of the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce. “I’m just excited that we’ve got such a wonderful first impression for people as they come across the bridge.”
The sculpture can be seen on the corner of Avenue G and U.S. 281, and the public is welcome to attend a dedication for the work of art and 100 pavers to be installed at the center at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4.
The sculpture is a 12-foot tall obelisk that represents fertility and prosperity.
“The concept of the obelisk is the meaning that Marble Falls is growing,” Lopez said. “As we experience that, we have to let a few things go and new things come.”
Such as the demolition of the nearly 80-year-old steel bridge and the construction of two new structures.
“That’s part of the process of growing. Things will change,” Lopez said.
The sculpture’s base is blue with mosaics on each of the four sides depicting water with fish and real pieces of the old bridge sticking out. Above that is a section of the truss from the bridge. And above that are mosaics of bluebonnets and the Hill Country with bottoms from wine glass bottles reflecting different colors.
“The glass, I’m fascinated with that, especially recycled glass,” Lopez said. “Being able to see the light come in through the glass like jewels is a very interesting thing.”
Lopez said the glass came from local vineyards and from what the church uses in its services.
And to top it off, the sculpture is finished with a granite point.
Lopez worked for about a month with help from his brother, Jaime, to complete the sculpture.
“When he put the first piece in, the base and lattice, people were bragging on it,” Rives said. “I said, ‘Hey, the best is yet to come.’”[box]IF YOU GO WHAT: Dedication for sculpture and pavers WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4 WHERE: Marble Falls Visitors Center, located on the corner of Avenue G and U.S. 281 in Marble Falls[/box]
Lopez studied mosaics in Italy and has lived in Marble Falls for 13 years, he said. Other works of art Lopez has made can be seen at his church and also at St. Paul the Apostle Chapel in Horseshoe Bay and Russo’s restaurant on Steve Hawkins Parkway.
Along with his life’s work as a Catholic priest, Lopez humbly accepts praise for the sculpture that also will be part of his legacy.
“I’m really happy to leave a legacy to Marble Falls. That little piece will mark something that represents our community, so I’m very proud and happy that I was selected to do that, to leave that as a legacy.”