As we cruise through the opening into the second week of Contemporary Art Month 2014 (CAM), it is clear there is only one month crazier than this – Fiesta in April. ¡Dios mio! There is far too much to do and see for a mere mortal. But we should remember to be grateful we are here: a time and place in the San Antonio art scene where "too much to do" is a common complaint.
Although it is in constant flux, the art scene in San Antonio continues to grow and evolve. The appreciation for contemporary art is keeping pace through the change, the upheavals, the growing pains. It is great to see established artists side-by-side with the fledglings. "CAMunity" is the motto for 2014 and it's exciting to see the passion of these individuals and groups on display and standing tall in the name of art all over the city. It is also important not to take this enthusiasm for granted. Shining a light on the scene for the month of March is a reminder that these forces continue throughout the year. Passion and dedication are required. It is a life commitment.
The CAM Kick-Off Party at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, free and open to the public, was an outstanding event. The newly minted director of Blue Star, Mary Heathcott, was on hand to welcome one and all – and a very respectable crowd it was.
The current exhibits are definitely worth exploring. Four artists are represented: Mira Hnatyshyn, Paul Rodriguez, Clair Watson and Rosane Volchan O'Conor. Each has a very distinct style and vision, working in diverse media. The show continues through May 11, 2014. Keep an eye on the Blue Star website for upcoming events, such as the award winning film, "Autumn Wanderer," screening on Wednesday, March 19.
As we moved into the weekend, the rain came down, but this didn't stop the celebrations. The Artist Foundation and the San Antonio Film Festival each had very well attended events at The Blue Star Arts Complex and Dorćol Distillery, respectively. Fundraising is a constant and challenging component of any arts nonprofit, and it was gratifying to see supporters come out for a good cause, even if things were a little soggy. Hey, this is San Antonio – we don't complain about the rain.
Saturday evening began at SAMOMA's Second Multiple, "The Return of the Mutt Cubists and the Bride of Einsteinfrankenstein Event". The first SAMOMA multiple show was about 40 years ago. This is not just a CAM event; it is a modern art event. These cats have some deep roots.
Norman Avila, George Horner and Don Evans founded the San Antonio Museum of Modern Art back in the 1970's after being nixed for a San Antonio Art League show. The group survived for several years – way ahead of the times for San Antonio. This interview conducted by former Brown Foundation Contemporary Curator, David S. Rubin, in conjunction with their retrospective at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) in 2012, is a very rich piece of oral history that vividly documents the significant contributions of this group.
Though the event was not well-publicized, the human participation spoke for itself – word of the happening spread quickly through the community.
We walked into a crowded house that was packed even further during the downpour. Ali Mendez, of legendary Los Padrinos music venue fame, hosted the opening night reception and it was like stepping into Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine, puro San Antonio style.
The word is that the "Mutt Cubists" exhibit will continue on the weekends throughout the month of March. Norman Avila will be manning the exhibit on Sunday afternoon, March 16.
The galleries down in the SoFlo / Lone Star Arts District were also open and rocking for CAM Second Saturday. Shek Vega of Gravelmouth Gallery curated an outstanding collection of some of the best local spray artists for "Shoot Yourself."
Yeah – catch up. The can of spray paint is a tool and this group of artists takes the medium to a whole new level. This is an interactive show in which the viewer is invited to bring their image-capturing device of choice to shoot the ultimate selfie.
On Saturday, March 15, from 4 - 6 p.m. you can help artists Shek Vega and Nik Soupé celebrate as they unveil their latest public art mural, commissioned by the The Current for their offices at 915 Dallas. Perhaps Shek will be open to extending the engagement of "Shoot Yourself" into April – anything is possible.
So, are you feeling that you've missed out a little? Well, here's your opportunity to make up for some of those lost opportunities.
This Weekend's CAM Event Highlights:
Friday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Ed Saavedra and Justin Parr of FL!GHT Gallery complete the circle of studio exchange initiated when the artists of Clamp Light Studios and Gallery took their show on the road to FL!GHT's SoFlo locale earlier this month. This performance art piece, "They Said We Looked Suspicious," is inspired by King Leopold of Belgium's admonition to his niece, the young Queen Victoria:
"Artists are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason, dangerous..."
This is a one night only, one time only performance piece. Arrive at Clamp Light, 706 Fredericksburg Road, with time to spare as this performance will commence promptly at 7 p.m. sharp – no fooling around. After hearing Saavedra rant about being harassed by the rent-a-cops at Blue Star Arts Complex a few months back, I wouldn't miss this event for the world. It's first on my list for Friday.
While you're there, stop in to see Miss CAM Antonio, Allison Skopec, exhibiting her work at Uptown Studio during Second Friday on Beacon Hill. Part performance space, part gallery, part pulga, this is an excellent creative hub to get to know.
The CAMx art exchange program goes international this year with the "La Tensión Extendida" pop-up in a warehouse exhibition space behind The Monterey at 1127 S. St. Mary's, Friday, March 14, 7-10 p.m. This is a collaboration between Mexico City-based curator Barbara Perea and San Antonio artist Michelle Monseau's Three Walls Gallery. The project is called "Crossing the Line: Exchange Project between Three Walls (San Antonio) and Centro Cultural Border (Mexico City)." It is funded by The Idea Fund – a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation – and CAM.
Mexico City artist, Manuel Rocha Iturbide, is internationally renowned for his work as a sound artist. His installation will be interactive, transforming the space into a musical instrument that can be played by the audience. This artistic exchange will be completed when Monseau takes five Texas artists to Mexico City's Centro Cultural Border later this year.
Iturbide arrived earlier in the week, and was given a warm welcome to the city with an informal gathering at Casa Chuck.
This iconoclastic, yet cozy guest house is part of the Sala Diaz art gallery/colony in Southtown. Guest artists and curators working with various arts institutions in our city often find themselves cocooned in this wonderful little nest. It serves as a working remembrance to beloved San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez and, appropriately, serves the working art community.
Speaking of Sala Diaz, while you're in the neighborhood on Friday night, you need to check out "Quiet Zone (Train in Vain)." It is a collaboration between, Justin Boyd, Michelle Monseau (of the aforementioned "Crossing the Line"), and Riley Robinson. One night only, 7-10 p.m.
So, at this point, is anyone else wondering how Justin Parr manages to be in so many places at once? He's nothing less than an art ninja.
"A bit of social whirl in your art cocktail, sir?" Dorćol Distillery, at 1902 S Flores, is in the mix again this weekend. Proprietors Boyan Kolusevic and Chris Mobley are stepping up to host pre-and-post CAMx cocktails on Friday, March 14. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to CAM, fulfilling the credo: "Have fun. Do good." This craft distillery that produces the bespoke Kinsman Rakia, features a sweet little bar with cunning libations.
With a revolving gallery of contributing artists, the photography of Adam Rocha is currently featured. There will be food trucks to sate your hunger, and DJ JJ Lopez of KRTU 91.7 FM will be spinning the vinyl. And then they will do it all over again on March 21, for CAM Perennial.
Take a moment to catch your breath after the weekend, because CAM just keeps on giving.
More Upcoming CAM Events:
- Marilyn Lanfear presents new works at The Hausmann Millworks, opening Wednesday, March 19, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. This exhibit curated by Richard Tietz focuses on the artist's narrative mixed media works in which she utilizes all media to tell her stories rich with history and a sense of place. Now in her 80's, Lanfear was recognized by The Art League of San Antonio as "Artist of the Year" in 2010 and is represented in the permanent collections of both the San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay Art Museum.
- Jessica Garcia presents "Practice Makes Perfect" a new performance art piece at Plazmo Contemporary, 1101 W. Woodlawn, Wednesday, March 19, 7 - 10 p.m. A multimedia installation work that examines the concept of "sugar and spice, and everything nice"… and a little more.
- Artpace hosts the Spring 2014 International Artist in Residence Opening Reception and Artist Dialogue, opening Thursday, March 20, 6 - 9 p.m. Have an opportunity to meet with the artists and see what they've been up to during the residency. Curated by Rita Gonzalez of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, featured in this round are installation works by Rosa Barba of Berlin, Germany, Liz Glynn of Los Angeles, CA, and Jessica Mallios of Austin, TX.
- Equinox Gallery, 418 Villita Street, Bldg #4 in the historic La Villita will host the opening of "Aequus Nox," on Thursday, March 20, 6 - 9 p.m. This collection is curated by gallery owner and master metalsmith Alejandro Sifuentes. Masters of the art of metalsmithing are invited to contribute works to this exhibition celebrating the gallery's third anniversary. Be sure to check out the collection of art galleries represented in La Villita while you are there.
- One more big fundraiser for the arts, the 17th Annual Say Sí "Small Scale Works for a Larger Cause" is ongoing. Over 200 works of art by local, regional and national artists are available for purchase now on the website or you can plan to attend their gala on Friday, March 21. This event benefits all the good programs at Say Sí. For more details about the event, click here. Another great opportunity to grow – or start –that art collection
Untitled (Public Display) / CAM Perennial, curated by Leslie Moody Castro, opens on Friday, March 21 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center with a reception from 6-9 p.m. This event marks the third time that the Guadalupe has partnered with CAM on arts programming for Contemporary Art Month. According to their website:
"The gallery space of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center will evolve as artists Christie Blizard and Mark Menjivar collaborate with each other, the surrounding community and gallery visitors. 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."
This interactive project relies on the participation of the viewer as a work in progress. It is an unconventional approach, seeking to engage the surrounding community in the creation process. This project will run through May 10, 2014.
*Featured/top image: The CAM "mascot" on display at the Blue Sart Arts Complex during the 2014 CAM Kickoff Party. Photo by Page Graham.