Whether it’s a home studio, a collaborative space or a gallery, all of the artists who participate in the On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour always manage to inspire and delight visitors. 2015 marks the 8th annual tour, and every year it seems to get better.
The event kicked off Friday evening with an opening and party at Bihl Haus Arts. All of the artists were represented in the exhibit. In addition, there was live music and a buffet on the patio. The buffet was presented by volunteer residents from the adjacent senior citizens’ community. As always, the event was well-attended, providing everyone a chance to experience art representing a broad range of styles and talents. Something for everyone.
The tour continues Sunday, Feb. 22, from noon until 5 p.m. No matter what the weather may be, it’s a great opportunity to get out and discover art – not to mention the people who create it.
The studio tour is comprised of almost 50 artists, making it almost impossible to visit everyone – although it is a tempting notion. We took advantage of a sunny Saturday afternoon to hop on the scooter and visit some of this year’s participants. There were certainly no disappointments.
The first stop was fAbRicaTe on West Woodlawn at the intersection of Zarzamora. The work of Dale Janssen, Stacy Parten and Thema Ortiz Muraida, among others, was featured. The work of Parten is not hard to miss, especially the ten-foot-tall UFO tucked into a corner. His work has a retro-futuristic whimsicality to it. He uses found objects, such as vintage hubcaps as source materials. Light shines from within through colored plexiglass pieces – a true visual delight. His work would be well-suited to a mid-century living room, perhaps on a kidney-shaped coffee table.
Next on the list was the fabulous late-1800’s home of Kathleen Trenchard, situated right across from Woodlawn Lake. Trenchard specializes in papel picado — literally meaning cut paper. Her works are fragile and gossamer-thin. They are best displayed sandwiched between two pieces of glass in a frame. Presented as such, shadows serve to enhance the images.
Just up the street was the home and studio of Laurel Gibson. Although she works in several different media, her clay pieces are most striking. Her dining room table was home to an array of figurines inspired by ancient Chinese funeral “soldiers.”
Among her own works, she shared her space with fellow artists Stef Cmielewski, Susan Oaks, Katherine Brown and Myriam Lanau.
One of the better-known artists on the tour is Danville Chadbourne. He and his wife, art historian Diana Roberts, live in a converted grocery store in Beacon Hill that is filled with his mixed-media sculptural works, along with voluminous amounts of record albums and books. This year, the space is actually navigable due to many pieces currently being displayed at the International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen. At other times, it can be a challenge to navigate one’s way through the space.
Chadbourne is definitely prolific, whether it’s clay sculpture or his oft-overlooked wooden pieces. The former tend to have mass and presence, while the latter are spindly and seemingly fragile – a definite case of opposites working in visual harmony.
Around the corner is the home of Richard Arredondo. As a retired professor from San Antonio College, he is well-known in the arts community and well-loved by his many former students. As a man of deep Catholic faith, Arredondo’s work often has religious tones, whether it’s the Virgin Mary or the Mission churches. His work has a luminous quality, not unlike the handmade manuscripts created by monks in the Middle Ages.
The final stop was Clamp Light Studios. Recently relocated from Fredericksburg Road to the now-bustling Midtown Blanco strip, Clamp Light is a collective space occupied by a half dozen artists, along with a gallery space up front.
This year, the gallery features a show by Albert Alvarez and Alejandro Augustin Padilla. Alvarez specializes in hyper-intense pen-and-ink drawings, which are reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch or Albrecht Durer. Padilla follows similar themes, but in a different manner. For this show he created small sculptures, which bear close scrutiny – the devil is in the details.
What is the best way to attack this seemingly endless array of arts and artists? A couple of years ago, I randomly drove around the area: Alta Vista, Beacon Hill, Montecello Park and Woodlawn Lake. Every exhibitor had a sign with balloons out front, making them easy to find. You never know what you’ll find inside.
If you prefer taking an organized approach to something like this, catalogs are still available at several area locations. The catalogs provide photos and descriptions of each artists’ work, along with a map to help guide you.