Moving out of the Pearl location for the first time, the tenth volume of PechaKucha San Antonio at the Casa Rosa (former Museo Alameda) saw a full crowd of both familiar and new faces.
Thanks to Downtown Tuesday, free parking in several nearby city lots facilitated easy access to the new venue, which some feared might discourage or intimidate attendees.
PechaKucha took over the entire second floor of the Casa Rosa. The cavernous, white gallery comfortably accommodated the whole crowd, offering plenty of seating as well as a separate area for food and drink. String and nail sculptures on the walls, designed and hung especially for PechaKucha, read “WATCH” and “20 X 20 SAN ANTONIO.”
“Music. I see it as a collage set to time. A form of art that manipulates time and sound as the medium, and hopefully elicits some kind of response from the listener.” Musician and STEM educator Ernest Gonzalez walked the audience through his macro understanding of music and sound, touching on such topics as frequency, the Doppler effect, and beats per minute.
Gonzalez moved into an explanation of sampling and how he conceives music as a layered collage of sounds, playing one drumbeat that has been used in thousands of songs at different tempos. Ultimately, he drew a parallel between music and art. “I think most things in life are samples,” Gonzalez concluded. “Culture itself is a remix. The concept of samples is what has allowed cultures to mesh.” Catch Gonzalez this Friday at Limelight to hear his sampling firsthand.
Artist and dancer Kathleen Trenchard opened her presentation by informing the audience of her intent to share some of her “follies and fantasies.” With eclectic experience spanning dance – flamenco and Balinese, to be specific – her career has revolved around reconciling her passions for dance and art.
Upon moving to San Antonio, she explained, “I traded my paintbrush for my hammer and chisles and knives.”Taking up this traditional method of paper cutting, she worked to convey movement, music, and passion through paper. Later studying shadow puppetry and tango, she remained obsessed with “trying to merge real life with fantasy.” Trenchard has brought to life countless dynamic scenes on paper using scissors, a utility knife, and a hammer and chisel.
Mark and Angela Walley
These filmmakers, musicians, and artists who met and fell in love as teenagers at Northwest Vista College showcased 20 six-second clips of their beautiful and thoughtful documentary work. Many productions by the Walleys focus on artists, and as Mark explained, “We want the audience to see and appreciate the amount of technical skill and effort these artists dedicate to their work.” A film about the photographs of Isa Leshko in her “Elderly Animals” series gently examined the artist’s own fear of aging and notions of mortality. A graceful and powerful piece on artist Vincent Valdez chronicled his work to create a large scale painting of his childhood best friend, who died in 2009 after serving in Iraq.
“Producing visual documentaries has allowed us the ability to discover and share our vision, and that has inspired our more recent films,” explained Angela. A forthcoming film on the life and work of the late San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez, with support from the Artist Foundation, Idea Fund, and other donors, aims to “bring his life and his work to new audiences.” All Walley Films are available for free viewing on the couple’s website.
Architect Killis Almond, with extensive experience in preservation of historic buildings, walked the audience through the ongoing process of restoring San Antonio’s historic Alameda Theater. In 1949, businessman Tano Lucchese built the Alameda Theater, which became the largest movie palace in the country at that time dedicated especially to Spanish language entertainment. “Imagine it: a first generation Italian-American, a Roman Catholic contractor and a Jewish architect, and they’re building a Spanish language vaudeville house, twenty years after vaudeville was dead,” laughed Almond. “Only in San Antonio!” Massive renovation on the Theater, including the addition of a school, will render it once again a lively and relevant part of the downtown ecosystem.
The genuine excitement exuded by the endearing Miss Anastasia, a storyteller and children’s book enthusiast, was contagious at PechaKucha volume 10. With rapt attention, the audience listened as an emotive Miss Anastasia explained her work as a career reader of children’s books and her experiences at the Children’s Shelter, in schools, at the Twig Bookstore, and with her own family. “Children aren’t critical!” she emphasized again and again, exhorting listeners to simply sit with their children, hold them, and read to them.
Miss Anastasia elaborated on the importance of real, tangible books in kids’ lives, describing the rich, physical experience of reading books. She noted the smell of the pages, and the sound and feel of thumbing through them for the first time. “Books are multi-sensory,” she went on to say. “If you’re a toddler you can even eat them!” Reaching the end of her presentation, Miss Anastasia received a warm standing ovation from the crowd.
“Mind Body Soul,” Josh Levine started. “More than a company, a way of life.” The owner of the Mind Body Spirit fitness and health businesses and Uncommon Fare grocery store responded to the city’s RFI and hopes to be the recipient of the $1 million cash incentive offered for a downtown grocery store. He described his vision for a sustainable downtown grocery as “not one store, but a constellation of stores facing every sector of the urban core by 2014. “I’m determined to create a new type of food chain, because the existing one is broken.”
Basing plans for expansion on the existing Uncommon Fare prototype located in Cevallos Lofts, Levine has plans for a location on Broadway in the River North area, a city center location housed in the Weston Center, an Eastside store and warehouse distribution center near Dignowity Park, and a future headquarters on the Westside with gardens and industrial kitchens. His last slide displayed a map of the city with future Uncommon Fare locations marked. “Notice there’s a sixth location that wasn’t mentioned that’s going to make a bunch of people happy,” he said. “Can you see it?”
Metal artist George Schroeder walked the audience through the breadth of his sculpture. Commenting on his improvisational creative process, he likened the creation of much of his art to a jam session. Schroeder’s work channels noise, sound, and energy. He pointed to one departure from his usual methods: the “Justicia Walls.” “This piece unfortunately had a lot of planning, he said of a beautiful orange structure at the Bexar County Justice Center. “It was an unusual project because I had to deal with five county commissioners.”
Schroeder displayed smaller pieces belonging to his functional, decorative art collection, as well as larger pieces such as the monumental “Synergy” in Houston and the amusingly named “Paychecks from Heaven,” commissioned by the American Payroll Association.
In an unexpectedly personal and heartwarming presentation, District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal gave an account of his professional experience in music and offered a sincere message of gratitude to his friend and earlier PechaKucha presenter Ernest Gonzlez. During college, Bernal scoured record stores looking for records with the perfect bass line, guitar riff, and melody to sample and combine, creating something new.
Bernal met Gonzalez, a fellow DJ and sampling artist, “in a place where a lot of questionable relationships start: MySpace.” The two began to talk about their music careers and eventually Gonzalez featured one of Bernal’s songs on a compilation album. One song became an entire album, and that first album led to a second. “Once you’ve put yourself out there like [that], once you’ve decided you’re willing to share yourself with the world and be criticized for what you’ve done, the next step…” Bernal trailed off as a picture of him on the campaign for District 1 Councilman appeared on screen, and the audience erupted with giggles and applause.
“I decided to run for office in Ernest Gonzalez’s living room. Ernest and his wife convinced me to do it.” Bernal concluded by saying that the pursuit and achievement of his dreams of making music and representing the community would not have been possible without Gonzalez. “I thought I’d take the opportunity to say thank you tonight to my friend Ernest Gonzalez.”
Miriam Sitz works for Accion Texas Inc., the nation’s largest non-profit microlender. A graduate of Trinity University, she blogs on Miriam210.com and sells handmade goods on TinderboxGoods.com. Follow her on Twitter at @miriamsitz. [Click here for more stories from Miriam Sitz on the Rivard Report.]
Preview of PechaKucha 9: All is Fair in Love and… Work? (February 2013)
A Preview: PechaKucha Night Volume 8 (November 2012)
Prelude to PechaKucha Night 7: 20 slides, 20 seconds (August 2012)
Creative class in session: PechaKucha 5 at the Pearl (February 2012)