Second Saturday Lifts Up Local, Latino Art

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Kathy Sosa speaks with a guest as they look over her artwork. Photo by Scott Ball.

Kathy Sosa speaks with a guest as they look over her artwork. Photo by Scott Ball.

San Antonio is widely considered one of the best cities for Chicano and Latino art. Over the last 20 years, areas like the Lone Star Arts District, with affordable studio and gallery space, have helped emerging artists find their place in the national and international art scenes.

Every Second Saturday of the month, the Lone Star District galleries open and people come out to view installations, paintings and performances for free. Renowned local artist Bill FitzGibbons, who owns the building at 107-111 Lone Star, opened the Dock Space gallery last June as a place for innovative art. The Lone Star building is home to established artists like Joe Lopez of Gallista Gallery, and emerging local talents like Daniela Riojas of Studio 111.

“Many of the artists here come from the barrios,” Lopez said. “But these galleries have helped bring our art from the streets into galleries.”

A guest looks through the panels of canvassed photographs by artist Daniela Riojas. Photo by Scott Ball.

A guest looks through the panels of canvassed photographs by artist Daniela Riojas. Photo by Scott Ball.

 

The Freight Gallery and Alex Rubio’s studio are just minutes away from the galleries inside the Lone Star Building, and there are more artists on their way, FitzGibbons said. The Dock Space plays a new, but important role in connecting the public with local artists and developing work.

The gallery’s newest show, simply titled Works by Lionel and Kathy Sosa,” will be on view by appointment only until March 4.  Call 210-723-3048 to make an appointment.

The husband-and-wife team are well known for their respective advertising careers in San Antonio, but the arts have always been an important part of their lives. Lionel came from humble beginnings in Westside San Antonio before founding the most successful Hispanic advertising executive in the country. Kathy previously worked as a copywriter and creative director before she began painting. In the last decade, she has created a number of works for the Southwest School of Art and private collectors.

The couple received formal art training from the late Nelson Shanks, best known for his iconic portraits. Shanks taught the same traditional techniques used by the Old Masters, but he infused his paintings with rich, vibrant colors.

“He taught us to look past the obvious,” Lionel said. “There’s so much more color than you realize.” 

At least three days a week, the couple can be found at their home studio in Castroville, painting with those same colors and techniques. The fine arts, as celebrated by museums and institutions, are important to the couple, but they prefer to be part of the local art conversation.

Viewers can see that celebration of local culture in Kathy’s “Tree of Life,” which contrasts humble Mexican textiles with bright, bold colors.

“There’s a ‘Tree of Life’ figure in almost every culture,” she said. “But this series provided me with a platform to express my thoughts and ideas.”

Some of her paintings represent everyday events, while others tackle more complex issues. No subject or moment is too small to be celebrated. Many artists use their work as social commentary to inspire revolutions and emotional reactions, Kathy said.

“I admire that, but my philosophy is there isn’t enough beauty in the world,” she said. “Whatever artists (choose to) do, we do it with a purpose. I want to be one of the artists to add beauty to the world.”

There’s definite similarities between the two artists’ work. Both artists celebrate women, beauty and Mexican culture. The same bright purples, greens and calming blues that appear in Kathy’s “Tree of Life” series show up in her husband’s paintings as well.

Lionel’s work includes many portraits of Latina women, and features experimental use of color, perception and light techniques.The only constant in his portraits is the attention and focus on the subject’s eyes.

Sosa stopped near his portrait, titled “Yummy,” which depicts a young Latina woman staring back at the viewer as she eats corn on the cob. Unexpected strokes of green and orange show up in her hair, her outfit, her face.

“Why green on her hair? Hell, I don’t know,” he said. For Sosa, painting is a creative process that allows for experimentation and improvisation. If he continues to work, the right color will present itself, the connections will appear. 

“I used to see things that I wanted, but couldn’t afford. I had to create things myself,” he said. “Art is just something that makes you feel good about where you are. Art is all about beauty, and this (allows) me to get as close to that beauty as I can.”

The Dock Space is open Monday through Friday by appointment only. Call 210-723-3048  to make an appointment. Click here to follow Lone Star District on Facebook.

 

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*Top Image: Kathy Sosa speaks with a guest as they look over her artwork.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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18 thoughts on “Second Saturday Lifts Up Local, Latino Art

  1. This is a promotional piece. Simply BEGS for a critical review of the works by the couple being featured. ( dots under the shirt..so?)
    Artist quotes:
    “Hell, I don’t know” and “Art is just something that makes you feel good about where you are. Art is all about beauty, and this (allows) me to get as close to that beauty as I can.”

    Incredibly sterile. It is as if there has not been a 150 years lineage of modern art and a vast and exciting trajectory of experiments in perception and social commentary that has provided a foundation for contemporary art.

    Safe. Safe. Safe. The usual suspects: Latina women, corn, the tree of life etc……

    • @Magpie, Drop into Freight Gallery, I’ll show you unsafe non cultural work created by a “Latino” artist.
      Christ defecating, high anxiety, bloody birds, cat bones and human hair. All tied up in pretty film of Joel Olsteen being smeared with fried egg and a roach. Open to all critique.
      -Alejandro A. Padilla

      • Ahhhhhhhh! Seriously? This kind of thing has been done (non-ethnic artists version of it all )….in fact, overly done. You may not remember the 1980’s, but even then the shock value was pretty short-lived. It seems that actual experience and a relevant perspective take too much time for many in the art world (so-called) in SA today.

        But thank you for the invitation.

  2. Don’t forget 3rd Space Art Gallery!! 3rd Space has been in “the Lone Star/South Flores Art District Second Saturday Art Walk” for FOUR years now – hosting a different local artist solo show EVERY month!!! The line up has been diverse and a conversation builder about contemporary art and the artist perspectives on contemporary society. We may not be a big area, we may not be the popular kids in town and we may be on the edge of “the district” but we are big and on the edge when it comes to what the artists are showing.

  3. And don’t forget L.a. Vatocosmico. And new kid on the block in the Lone Star hood, Daniela Riojas. The fundraiser that Alex Rubio hosted at his R Space Gallery was for Jessica Garcia’s “Seven Minutes In Heaven” happening – which is never safe. Love Pink Leche. Shek Vega’s Gravelmouth. ALL of the studios at 1906 where Andy and Yvette Benavides have been making art and creating space for artists for more than 20 years. They are also taking it to the next gen with their S.M.A.R.T. program. Joe Lopez (his Gallista used to be where Martinez’s Freight Gallery is now) is still around. Ladybase is a frequent exhibitor in the hood. Obviously, I can go on ad nauseam.

    I second what Kim Bishop and Alejandro Padilla have to say. Alot of bandwidth was taken up with the Sosas. Yes, very safe, well known, and establishment. Very pretty, and they are the first to admit that. Not a criticism, just fact. To each his own. Freedom of expression. There is room for all of in it San Antonio.

    Best thing about this hood that didn’t make it into this article? THE ARTISTS own the space. They are in control of their own destiny and dedicated to the vision of that destiny.

    Magpie, this may come off as an apologist piece to you, and so be it. Fact of the matter, you need to get out to Second Saturday. A place where ARTISTS come to work, grow and thrive. It’s a happening thing.

    • Once again I thank you for the invitation, but I am not convinced. There are artists everywhere (non- capitalized ones anyway) whose works thrives outside the galleries and second, third and fourth Saturdays. Perhaps they thrive because of this….!

      • Well, you can lead a horse to water…

        Don’t understand the resistance to a good thing. Don’t criticize the South Flores and Lone Star Second Saturday movement from perceptions based on a single article.

        Or, just sit back and continue to judge.

        • It is not a simple “judgment” but based on many, many years of observing the art world here in SA. The article stands as a valid point of departure for critical analysis of a much larger arena of the art world.

          I might also note that I am not a horse, and you presume there is water.

          • Once again, you strain your credibility by insisting upon the anonymity of a nom de plume. Come out of the shadows, and we all can have a truly meaningful discussion.

          • To Mr. Graham (if that is your real name) please know that my concern is with the value of the dialogue, not with identities of the participants in this discussion. Much of the problem in the SA art world as it has developed in recent years is that people are defending personalities and this gets in the way of true critique.

            I am not in the shadows, I am in the light. My credibility stand on my words, not my identity. Besides, I thought we were having a meaningful discussion.

  4. Also how in the world does an article about Second Saturday exit without mention of Andy Benavides and Yvette Benavides who run the game in South Flores Arts District?! They’re the entire heart and soul of that area and you would hard pressed to find one artist who they’ve not helped out or opened their space to.

  5. This article failed to mention the work of Shek Vega and other artists within the “Los Otros” collaborative.
    https://www.facebook.com/LosOtrosMurals/

    I am glad that the article highlighted the work of Kathy Sosa. Truly, an amazing exhibit which I was lucky enough to experience last year. For more information on that exhibit:
    http://sanantonio.culturemap.com/news/arts/12-14-15-san-antonio-art-exhibit-trees-of-life-veronica-castillo-kathy-sosa/#slide=0

    And, I would have enjoyed reading more about Ms. Riojas’ exhibit as well. I feel as if her portraits had a larger story to tell and the author skipped over this subject entirely.

    As for Second Saturday’s – truly a wonderful time full of diversity and talent – an event not to be missed.

  6. This article is a decent start, having more photos with more representation of color would be great. There were a ton of young Latinos, African Americans and other ethnicity there… Second Saturday is about intermodal art, the ability of the “other” to tell their stories, from marginalization to pure expression. The patrons of second Saturday also make the space what it is, leaving them out of the article visually creates a representation that I feel takes away from the actual event.

  7. How could this article not even MENTION Andy Benavides and everyone at 1906 S. Flores. Not to come off as rude Ms. Lea, but have you even been to a Second Saturday event? If so, I’m sure you would have noticed that 1906 is the heart and soul of not only Southtown, but the art scene in San Antonio as well. It makes me upset that this article skipped over so much, and told such a one-sided story.

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