Contemporary Art Month (CAM) 2016 is alive and well, despite the recent controversy surrounding the CAM Perennial exhibition that was expected to take place at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. All other aspects of the month-long celebration are a-go. After 31 years, CAM continues to encourage San Antonio’s artists, performers and curators to present the best that the community has to offer.
Although painful in the moment, it is wise to remember that good things can come of disagreement and strife. Born into controversy, CAM was started in 1986 by Jeffrey Moore, the director of the Southwest School of Arts & Crafts – the institution now known as the Southwest School of Art. All the trouble began, back in the day, when the San Antonio Museum of Art cancelled a highly-anticipated contemporary art show.
The first edition of CAM took place in what is now the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, founded in this same fit of pique by the San Antonio art community. Bernard Lifshutz and Hap Veltman were the visionary developers and avid arts supporters who provided the space. So many others came together to keep the arts thriving, then and now. After all these years, CAM is still an all-volunteer organization with a small board. Artists are still the magic that makes it all happen.
CAM became an independent project in 2003. By 2010, CAM organizers decided to move the project from July to a more temperate season. The CAM Perennial Exhibition was introduced in 2012 and the CAMx (CAM exchange) in 2013, in an effort to broaden the scope and impact of CAM beyond San Antonio city limits. Both events encourage interaction with outside curators and collaborative exhibition opportunities in other cities.
The motto for 2016 is “more than just a calendar,” a reference to the broader goals of the nonprofit organization. Today, there are more than 100 events listed on the CAM calendar. Events will take place at galleries, museums, performing arts spaces, schools, artist studios and other unconventional locations around the city.
According to the CAM website, “Contemporary Art Month seeks to promote and raise the national profile of San Antonio contemporary art and artists by organizing and facilitating a month-long celebration of contemporary art, providing marketing support and by organizing and facilitating public education programs.”
CAM is more than just a calendar,but the best way to navigate the month-long event is to get intimate with the online calendar. With event additions and updates, it will continue to evolve throughout the month. New this year, the calendar view is customizable and much more user friendly than in years past. A hard-copy of the calendar will be printed, as is customary, in the March 2 edition of The Current, a long-time CAM sponsor.
If you begin by taking a look at the calendar you will see that the month has already begun with some excellent ongoing exhibitions at McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art and Southwest School of Art. These institutions will be hosting a broad variety of events and activities during the run of CAM.
CAM Kick-Off Party & Crowning 0f Miss CAM Antonio| Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum: March 3, 6– 9 p.m.
An important part of this celebration are the openings that happen concurrently with the party. In addition to the three Spring Exhibitions opening at Blue Star Contemporary -- Blue Star Ice Company, Going on Going and Do It & Do It (Archive) -- there will be events all over the Blue Star Arts Complex. Take the time to explore and stop in at Terminal 136, Mockingbird Hand Prints, John Welch’s pop-up and the Open Studio featuring works by Farad Ibrahimovic, Heimo Wallner and Verena Gaudy. Cinnabar Gallery will also be open, but only until 7:30 p.m. Afterward, keep the festivities rolling at the 2nd Annual CAM Dance, a fundraiser to help keep contemporary arts and artists an important part of the San Antonio scene. $10 donation at the door.
CAMx at Sala Diaz, Opening Reception, Saturday, March 5, 6– 10 p.m.: Sala Diaz is a world-renowned experimental exhibition space, residency program and community organization. This exhibition pairs Sala Diaz with Denver-based Black Cube Nomadic Museum. Featured is a site-specific ceramic installation by Black Cube artist fellow Stephanie Kantor. According to the Sala Diaz website, “Mock Pavilion explores points of cultural transition through the interpretation of historic design motifs from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.” Later this year, San Antonio artists (TBA) will travel to Denver to complete the cycle. Sala Diaz is located at 517 Stieren in the heart of the Cultural Arts District.
CAM’s 11th Annual City-Wide Open Studios, Sunday, March 20, Noon – 4 p.m. Part of what keeps CAM real is that anyone can participate in this event. There is no jury, no curation, no cost. Furthermore, there is still time for artists to get involved for 2016. The only caveat is that your doors must be open to the public during the designated event hours. While artists are signing up their studios for this event, they may as well also submit contact information to be a part of the list of San Antonio artists that will be provided to future curators of CAM Perennial. The After Party is at Zollie Glass Studio, 1428 S. Presa St. #1, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
CAMMIE Awards & Closing Party, CHRISpark, Friday, March 25, 6-10 p.m. This is the final official CAM event. It is a tradition that thanks all who participate to make CAM happen and recognize the Best of CAM with the CAMMIE Awards. The winners are determined by ballot, so take notes as you breathe in the fumes of CAM. Everyone has an opportunity to cast their vote in a variety of categories and the deadline to do so is midnight, Wednesday, Mar. 23. Ballot Here. This is also your opportunity to view the Spare Parts Mini Art Museum's closing reception for "That Thing On The Side Of The Road," curated by Hills Snyder. Blue Moon Beer is the official CAM2016 sponsor. $10 donation at the door. This is a smoke-free event.
JUST TO GET YOU STARTED
Once again, pay attention to the calendar. There are so many interesting events this year that it is impossible to make mention of all in one article. Art is subjective and I would encourage you to explore not only your favorites, but perhaps a few that you haven’t seen before. Because of its egalitarian structure, CAM is an opportunity to take a walk off the beaten path, an opportunity to step outside that comfort zone. Examine what you don’t understand. Question reality. Question authority. Question sanity. Let me draw your attention to a few possibilities.
- 31 Days of Contemporary Conceptual Camera Confabulation – an Instagram concept by Sean FitzGibbons
- Deborah Roberts: “Queens: Redrawing the Base of Beauty," curated by Scott A. Sherer, Ph.D -- Carver Community Cultural Center Gallery
- Plasticity, concept by resident artist T.Hopkins – Hello Studio
- Seven Minutes in Heaven 2016, curated by Jessica Garcia – invisible gallery (TBA)
- Danville Chadbourne: New Works on Paper and Small Sculptures – REM Gallery
- Sonic Provocation: Richard Oppenheim and Rene Saenz – URBAN-15
- Three The Hard Way, curated by Raul Gonzalez– Clamp Light Studios & Gallery
- We’re Talking About Practice, curated by Norbert Clyde Martinez, Jr. – SAC Visual Arts Center Gallery
- Cloth and Sound: Tunde Odunlade – The Olaju Art Group, Brick @ Blue Star
- “A Mutagenic Mustering 1970-1979” Jim Harter, John Rogers, Donjon Evans, Norman Avila and George Horner – South Texas Popular Culture Center (Tex Pop)
- The Color of Blind, curated by Trina Bacon – Brick @ Blue Star
- All Hands on Deck, curated by Robert Tatum -- Choice Goods Gallery
Okay, there's more than a few, and one more clue. Second Saturday takes place in the South Flores | Lone Star Art District. Reference the calendar for events happening on March 12. Most of these events are centered around Southtown and particularly in this area. Check it out. Second Saturday can ebb and flow, but for CAM you can be sure that everyone with a studio is pulling out all the stops. This is a great opportunity to see what’s going on in this burgeoning art community.
Think you can do it all? It is more than just a calendar. It's a movement.
*Top Image:Installation by Jessica Segall. Her work will be exhibited at SAC. CAM 2016. Courtesy photo.