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Rock-solid ties nurtured in Texas city

By May Zhou in San Antonio, Texas | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-09 07:36

When it comes to honoring a friendship, a rock weighing 6.5 tons might just be the most solid way to symbolize that, according to Chinese and United States officials during a sister-city event in Texas.

The 3.66-meter tall, 1.83-meter wide Taihu rock was officially dedicated to the San Antonio Museum of Arts, or SAMA, on Wednesday night on the bank of the city's renowned Riverwalk by officials from both San Antonio and Wuxi in East China's Jiangsu province.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Consul General of China in Houston Cai Wei agreed that the rock is a fitting symbol of the friendship between the cities.

SAMA Art Director Katherine Luber recounted how SAMA assistant curator Shawn Yuan whispered in her ear, "Ask for a rock", when she was discussing possible collaboration with Wuxi Vice-Mayor Liu Xia last year. Liu was leading a delegation to participate in San Antonio's Tricentennial Celebration.

Rock-solid ties nurtured in Texas city

The words eventually led Luber and Yuan to a quarry by Taihu Lake in Wuxi, where they picked out the rock that they wanted to become part of the SAMA collection. After a monthlong sea voyage, the rock finally arrived in San Antonio early this year and was installed.

Wuxi and San Antonio became sister cities in 2012. With a canal running through both cities, the two also became sister canals last year.

Nirenberg had visited Wuxi when he was a City Council member.

"Our vibrant sister-city relationship with Wuxi has featured a number of exchanges increasing the global diplomacy of residents in both cities," Nirenberg said. "As chairman of Sister Cities International, the importance of cultural activities and exchanges is all the more relevant at a time like this. Culture is the glue that holds everything together and through which we celebrate our shared humanity."

Cai called the installation of the Taihu rock in San Antonio a milestone for friendly exchanges between the two cities and a symbol of the drive to build more connections.

"We are glad to see the precious Taihu rock be placed along the lovely and tranquil riverside as a unique decoration of the city and a symbol of long-lasting friendship," Cai said.

Sun Guoxiang, vice-secretary-general of the Standing Committee of Wuxi Municipal People's Congress, led a delegation of seven at the dedication ceremony.

"We have had extensive exchanges with city officials and museum staff to learn about their cultural event ideas in the last two days. We are amazed to learn that the annual Fiesta San Antonio has had 120 years of history. We could learn something from that," Sun said.

Porous rock is an important aesthetic symbol in Chinese tradition and is especially appreciated among Chinese scholars. In order to help Americans to better understand this Chinese art form, Wuxi Museum brought 30 art objects primarily from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to showcase the art and lifestyle of ancient Chinese scholars. The exhibition will last until Feb 9, 2020, at SAMA.

Art patrons Barbara and George Williams and Rose and John Hendra have made major contributions to ensure the success of the project.

(China Daily 11/09/2019 page7)

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