‘Fiesta Folks’ Party at Flight Gallery

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Josh Huskin is one of the top photographers in San Antonio, part of the new generation photographing everyone from legendary musician Augie Meyers to the 16th U.S Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro. On Saturday, April 25 at 4 p.m., his first gallery show ever will open at Flight Gallery in the Blue Star Arts Complex.

Whether you know it or not, you are probably familiar with his work. He is in demand for editorial and commercial projects, and his pictures frequently grace the covers of San Antonio Magazine and The Current, his quirky and spot-on portraits of the constellation of glitterati and the creative “make it happen” folks of San Antonio.

The quality of his photography is a sort of wide-eyed brightness that is all at once kitsch theatricality, meets Fortune 500, meets Cindy Sherman. Huskin is entirely self-taught, from the Gateway to The West – San Angelo, Texas, arriving in San Antonio in 2005.

“I started out doing retouching and printing and that sort of thing in the back end of a studio. I never went to school for photography, but I was always kind of around it. I started shooting in 2008 and just fell in love with it,” he said. “I just went crazy from there, and now this is all I do. I’m pretty lucky.”

Fiesta Folks” is a project that Huskin conceived because he wanted to do something fun and original to celebrate Fiesta 2015.

“I wanted to do some fun portraits of people that like and participate in Fiesta, but I wanted to make it into something a little different,” he said. He also had in mind for his 2015 bucket list to put together an exhibition that was gallery worthy.

Huskin decided to solicit an open call for people to come and sit, originally thinking he would do about 30 portraits. The final number ended up being 70, with a total of 90 people involved. Each participant got a hand-made Fiesta medal from the photographer.

The recurring theme was confetti, naturally, and just playing off of people’s personalities and having fun. Remarkably, all these portraits were shot in a 6-day period earlier this month.

Huskin also had one more goal in mind: doing a little good with the project.

“Getting that many people through the studio at once, it was important to me to raise some money for a nonprofit in town, so I went with the Artist Foundation of San Antonio. I didn’t put a dollar figure on it and just asked everyone who came in, ‘Hey please just bring a donation to Artist Foundation.’ I just kind of collected this money from all these people, and I donated my fee for the sitting, and so it ends up being $1,800 (that) I’ll be cutting them a check for,” he said.

Founded by Bettie Ward and Patricia Pratchett, the Artist Foundation has granted $570,000 to 102 artists since its inception in 2006. It is one of the few organizations that makes direct grants to artists for the creation of new and original work. According to the website, “We believe that by granting awards and recognition to our artists the art market in San Antonio and Bexar County will grow, diversify and prosper. Artists are in fact small business owners and an important factor in economic development. Cities across this country have awakened to the fact that vibrant artistic communities draw not only tourists, but also employers and talented employees.”

Fortunately, Huskin was able to snag a spot at Flight Gallery on short notice.

“When I was looking, two months ago, I knew that I was really late – I mean galleries usually book their shows much further out than that. I thought I might do a pop-up somewhere, but I reached out to Justin (Parr) and asked if they had anything available. Luckily there was a date there when they happened to be between shows, so it really worked out perfectly.”

Part of the perfect timing is that this show will open at the tail-end of the King William Fair. So, after you’ve spent the day out at the fair, the idea is to roll on in and check out “Fiesta Folks” on your way to your next Fiesta adventure. It will be the after-party to hit. On Facebook, Justin Parr has promised dancing pirates, so what do you have to lose? If you miss out on Saturday, the word is that you may be able to catch the exhibit on First Friday, May 1.

Happy Fiesta, Folks.

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