Contemporary Art Month Ain’t Over ‘Til the Cammies Sing

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Miss CAM Antonio 2014, Alison Skopec, learns how to wave like royalty. Photo by Page Graham.

Miss CAM Antonio 2014, Alison Skopec, learns how to wave like royalty. Photo by Page Graham.

Contemporary Art Month (CAM) is rolling into the home stretch this week. It has been a fantastic month of CAMunity in San Antonio so far, with the contemporary artist community stretching to make the event bigger and better than ever. As we’ve combed through the events of this past week, it is refreshing to have the opportunity to interact with such thought provoking individuals. Creative individuals working and playing with each other to tease ideas to fruition to further a greater goal in the community.

“Untitled (Public Display) / CAM Perennial 2014” opens Friday evening, 6-9 p.m. at The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC). Leslie Moody Castro was chosen to “invent” this third CAM Perennial event. The word “invent” is used very specifically. Castro got the nod from CAM co-director Nina Hassele in the beginning of the year – a very small time with which to work, but this is the nature of the project.

Leslie Moody Castro sits with artist Manuel Rocha Iturbide at Casa Chuck's CAMx event during CAM 2014.

CAM artists and curators celebrate at Casa Chuck. Photo by Page Graham.

Castro is no stranger to San Antonio. She served an internship at Artpace in 2010. Since then, this graduate of the University of Texas has gone on to be a successful independent curator based in Austin and Mexico City. Most moving is the depth at which she has explored our city in six weeks time in order to conceive this project.

Castro has been sharing her process with us very eloquently via a series in The Current, “The Curator Diaries.” In these revealing essays, she attempts to make her process transparent. She shares her discoveries and successfully conveys the sense of wonder that is the lifeblood of any curator worth their salt. You can find links to this absorbing journal here. They are well worth a read.

The “ah ha” moment in the series, is when she sits down to talk with David Mercado Gonzalez and his wife Irma about the early years – the activist years – of The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Throughout the the tumultuous and revolutionary changes of the 1960s and 70s and the natural cultural evolution of the community over the years, it was clear that “the visual arts remained a strong tool to continuously better the community as a whole.”

1985 Guadalupe Cultural Staff in front of the Guadalupe Theater. standing (l-r) Sandra Cisneros, Patricia Montoya, Jorge Pina, David Mercado Gonzales with son Rafael Gonzales, Rolando Mazuca, Paul Colorado, Jose Garza. and Max Martinez. Keeling (l-r) Eduardo Diaz, Felice Garcia, Juan Tejeda and unindentified person. Photo courtesy Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

1985 Guadalupe Cultural Staff in front of the Guadalupe Theater. standing (l-r) Sandra Cisneros, Patricia Montoya, Jorge Pina, David Mercado Gonzales with son Rafael Gonzales, Rolando Mazuca, Paul Colorado, Jose Garza. and Max Martinez. Keeling (l-r) Eduardo Diaz, Felice Garcia, Juan Tejeda and unindentified person. Photo courtesy Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

This is the energy and life of CAM. When you allow yourself to be immersed in it, this truth – evident in the discovery process of the curator – is abundantly clear.

“I am not interested in delving into identity politics, nor am I interested in isolating one group from another,” Castro stated in her column. “I want to use the space to facilitate a larger conversation in ubiquitous and interesting ways.”

"Clover" from The Luck Archive by Mark Menjivar. Photo courtesy Mark Menjivar.

“Clover” from The Luck Archive by Mark Menjivar. Photo courtesy Mark Menjivar.

The “tools” that Castro has chosen to articulate this vision are artists Christie Blizard and Mark Menjivar.

As collaborators, they will engage in an evolutionary creative process that will activate not only the gallery at The Guadalupe, but the surrounding community.

“Works will be added, taken out of the space, and the process documented on a hand drawn map of the community which will serve as a focal point of the exhibition,” states an exhibit description.

In addition to CAM Perennial, GCAC will unveil “La Carpa Guadalupe” at the Museo Guadalupe parking lot, 723 S. Brazos.

This is the first in a series of pop up events that will happen in three different places in the community. This event harkens back back to the traditional Mexican tent shows of the early 1900’s, but with a twist. The collaborators will be local artists Chris Sauter, Cruz Ortiz, Andy Benevides, Victor and Sarah Pagona, and Matt Kubo.

Trying to levitate over a painting, 2013. Photo courtesy Christie Blizard.

Trying to levitate over a painting, 2013. Photo courtesy Christie Blizard.

According to the GCAC press release, “The original carpas were temporary theaters that allowed Mexico’s urban underclass to forget their daily troubles and were encouraged by the government as an alternative to the pulque halls and brothels.”

For every culture and all times experience these moments: distract the people with bread and circuses.

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Image courtesy Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

Patty Ortiz, Executive Director at GCAC and La Carpa curator, explains, “Mirroring the exuberant spirit and resourceful energy of the artists of San Antonio, ‘La Carpa Guadalupe’ carves a blank space for the artist, challenging the notion of conventional exhibition space.”

There will be several other opportunities to experience La Carpa: First Friday, April 4, 6 – 9 p.m. in front of the Liberty Bar, and then each day of the Tejano Conjunto Festival, May 16 – 18.

More CAM This Weekend:

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Two Infinities Marble by Jake Zollie Harper. Photo courtesy Say Sí.

CAM All Week Long:

  •  Tuesday, March 25, the 5th Annual Cookie Jar Exhibition curated by San Antonio ceramists extraordinaire Wesley Harvey and Diana Kersey. Ten San Antonio artists are invited to contribute cookie jars for sale and they will certainly range from kitsch to ridiculous, to sublime, so don’t miss it. The sweet thing is that it will be hosted at Lily’s Cookies in the heart of historic Monte Vista, 6 – 9 p.m. Cookies and milk will be served. Naturally.
  • Also on Tuesday, X Marks the Art at PASA Studio, 400 N St. Mary’s St, suite 101, 6 – 7 p.m. Focusing on the “Light + Technology” series, this program highlights San Antonio based artists and collectives who are activating vacant, underutilized spaces downtown. This is an initiative of city councilman Diego Bernal designed “to create a downtown environment rich in opportunities for locals and visitors alike to participate in engaging cultural activities without needing to leave the heart of the City Center.”
  • Broaden your horizons by attending art talks. There is a Black Box Lunch with San Antonio artist Mira Hnatyshyn at The Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Wednesday, March 27, noon. Contact the museum to make your reservations. Also, at Cinnabar Gallery, in the Blue Star Arts Complex, attend the final in a series of arts talks with featured artists from the current exhibition “Return.” On Thursday, March 27, 7:30 – 9 p.m. check out McKay Otto’s powerful component sound plays in his latest series of works.
  • Albert Alvarez opens “La Chamba/Dirty Works” at Bihl Haus Arts, 2803 Fredericksburg Road, March 29, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.  Curated by Kellen Kee McIntyre, this show focuses on the works of this incredibly talented young artist. A graduate of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, Albert’s intricate pen and ink work combines the grit of the urban barrio with historical references including WWII and the Texas Revolution. You just have to see it.
  • Opening at Ruiz-Healy Art, 201 E. Olmos Dr, “Straight From Berlin: Paintings and Works on Paper by Uwe Kowski and Jörg Herold.” Thursday, March 27, 6 – 8 p.m. This is a great opportunity to take in gallerist Patricia Ruiz-Healy’s fantastic new space.
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Albert Alvarez (left) at his studio. Photo by Page Graham.

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Contemporary Art Month. There is a closing party at the Linda Pace Foundation’s Chris Park, 111 Camp St. The Cammie Awards and Closing Party happens Friday, March 28, 7 – 10 p.m.

Come out and celebrate one more year under the belt as the CAMunity breathes a satisfied sigh of relief and looks forward with anticipation and trepidation to 30 years strong in 2015. Last year was a blast, and we trust that 2014 will be no different.

To view photos from previous Contemporary Art Month 2014 events, visit the CAM facebook page.

*Featured/top image: Miss CAM Antonio 2014, Alison Skopec, learns how to wave like royalty. Photo by Page Graham.

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Contemporary Art Month: 29 Years of “CAMunity”

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