On the patio, a graffiti artist makes swooping gestures over a large format paper with spray paint. Inside, a comic artist sketches intently on his notepad something yet unrecognizable. Like so many other nights at Limelight, a local band is shredding on stage, drawing people in. But it’s not a band the regulars have seen before. And the art featured goes beyond paintings and drawings; spray paint, mixed media, even yarn.
When you walk into Creative Creatures, you’ll quickly notice that this is a different sort of arts event. It does feel a little bit like a miniature First Friday – except it’s second Thursday. Brightly colored arts and crafts tables, manned by their craftsmen, line the fence and walls inside and outside the nightclub on N. St. Mary’s Street.
“Eddy has been heavily involved in the art scene for years, and I’ve been involved in the music scene for a long time. We really wanted to combine our networks and create a more encompassing arts event that expanded beyond just paintings and drawings,” Garanzuay said.
“In the music scene, you often you see the same bands play with the same bands over and over. Hence the clique. Many bands play the same venues,” Garanzuay explained. This breeds a culture of “sameness” and a community that exists inside a restrictive bubble. Alternative art scenes in particular often fall victim to clique mentality.
Of course, this can stifle creativity and make innovation, novelty, and nuance slow in coming. Like many others involved in the scene, Garanzuay and Rios are acutely aware of how easily general dissatisfaction and boredom can surface in such an environment.
“We wanted to include bands and artists that were not so much a part of the scene necessarily because all of the bands and artists in San Antonio are worthy of support and exposure,” she said. “But we also want to foster networking and to connect people that may have never been connected (outside the scene).”
It’s not rare for a scene to be cliquey – it happens to the best of them. But it can thwart inventiveness because there is simply not enough variation of thought to allow for exploration of new ideas. Understanding the importance of reaching across specialties, skill sets, departments, and genres while harnessing the power of collaboration is something that has come to define the most successful operations of our day – whether corporate or community. These sorts of environments invigorate creativity and productivity.
With this sort of inclusivity in mind, Creative Creatures aims to broaden the cultural community and to support and leverage each other’s skills, talents, and creative energies. They’re constantly open to new partnerships. Die Happy Productions and SOAH Tequila, for instance, have joined in.
“We made it a point to mix it up as much as possible,” Garanzuay said. “That’s why we feature arts as varied as crochet work, to jewelry making, to something off the wall like fortune telling or belly dancing … And we wanted to bring that First Friday (multiplicity) to the music scene, but still have it be intimate.”
Organizers are very conscious about inviting an array of artists and musicians to feature at the event, some that are familiar to the scene and some that aren’t. They know they run the risk of not having a stable following of attendees that know what to expect.
“If we were more about making a profit, we would organize the event that way. But we’re not interested in doing that,” Garanzuay explains. “The only reason we charge a cover ($3) is to pay the bands. Otherwise it would be totally free.”
This model creates an environment that is always changing and constantly brings something new to the experience.
The idea is to draw in people from all over town, not just those that live around The Strip and Southtown where the arts communities are well-established.
The organizers carried through this idea of inclusivity in naming the event. The word “art” is purposely avoided because the organizers want people to think about this event differently than other arts events around San Antonio.
Inclusivity is also maintained in the event setup. With tables for displaying work and socializing strung together, the arrangement lets no one feel left out. People are almost forced to interact.
In just its second month, they’ve had so many requests from artists and musicians to participate that the founders are already thinking they may need to move the event to a larger venue – and they are open to the idea of moving (if it comes to that) away from San Antonio’s more established art hubs.
When asked about what’s in store for the event this year and where it’s going, Garanzuay answered: “We’ve had a really good response so far, so we just want to continue to get the word out and have all sorts of people at our event and encourage any artist to submit their work. We always want to have new faces there, but also regular attenders. And we just want the arts community to grow and benefit from bringing everyone together.”
At this rate, there is enough interest from the community that the founders envision an all-day festival possible sometime this year. For now, Creative Creatures’ main focus is building a greater cultural connection, community, and synergy.
Expanding the clique, if you will.
*Featured/top image: Illustrator Ant Lopez sketches during Creative Creatures at the Limelight. Photo by Shirley Parodi.