Intimate interactions with puppets, live musical entertainment, and the in-depth study of a napkin all had a part to play in last night’s PechaKucha presentation. More good time than family brawl, the ninth volume of this quarterly event highlighted eight of the city’s creative couples, each shedding light on a unique aspect of San Antonio’s cultural landscape.
Not surprisingly, the Center for Architecture at the Pearl hosted a full house, with pre-sale tickets selling out early in the day on Tuesday. As most of the pairs struggled to stay within their allotted 400 seconds, so did this reporter struggle to stay under 2000 words. Without further ado, on to the summaries!
(Note: names of presenters are linked to their professional websites.)
In each of their projects, Lorraine and Perez strive to use materials available, to be economically responsible, and to avoid waste. “We like to say, ‘beauty might show up,’” Perez explained. The idea for their presentation emerged from the PechaKucha framework of 20 seconds per 20 slides.
The duo behind Saintlorraine took a found object – in this case, a napkin – and constructed a study of sculpture and movement. Perez crumpled and shaped the napkin ten times. After each manipulation, Lorraine studied the napkin 20 seconds and then interpreted the image with her body.
Pictures of a plain napkin in various stages appeared, followed by photos of Lorraine mapping the movement of the napkin, while the artists narrated their experience and the audience tittered at some of the more humorous poses. “This one was driving me crazy, because it looked like a chicken,” said Lorraine. “I was like, ‘Don’t make a chicken!’” But in the end, much to the audience’s delight, the piece demanded just that – Lorraine in an undeniably poultry-like pose.
The owners and operators of Outlaw Kitchens, Paul Sartory and Peggy Howe, moved to San Antonio two and a half years ago from New York and sought to establish something unique in the city’s food and restaurant landscape: a chef-driven, affordable, take-away food service and grocery. Each day, Sartory cooks just one meal – whatever he deems is best at that moment in time. The grocery also stocks just the “essentials,” including beer, wine, charcuterie, gourmet dog food and toilet paper.
Sartory explained the three most important lessons he has learned throughout his lengthy career as a professional chef: 1) “There’s really no substitute for the integrity of the ingredients,” 2) “The best of intentions will not replace experience. By the time you become old, you realize that the less that you manipulate the food the more likely it is to be exceptional,” and 3) Summing up his experience, his third lesson learned from years of cooking was this: “I no longer wanted to cook for a club in NYC, or a restaurant in France where a piece of cake costs $35. I learned (that I) wanted to cook for my neighbors, my friends, and my family.” The couple will relocate Outlaw Kitchens to a recently purchased building in Alta Vista and open in the fall.
Married for four years, together for eight, and residents of the city for ten years each, Kristin and Clay Hefty’s is “very much a San Antonio love story.” Kristin, an architect from Calvert gave her number to Clay, a consultant turned general contractor from Beaumont who appreciates the clear air and water of San Antonio, on a napkin (a picture of which, though allegedly with one digit changed, was greeted by cheers from the audience).
In an arguably naïve and “pretty silly” move, according to Kristin, the couple quit their jobs, started working together, and married a year later. Starting small with residential remodels (first: a closet!), the Heftys eventually took on larger commercial jobs, such as a guard station at La Cantera – “Even on small projects, hire an architect!” explained Clay. The team then acquired more complex projects like the Sweet Leaf Tea headquarters in Austin and later, what Clay called the “game changer of [their] career,” The Monterey.
“We love working with local artists and craftsmen,” Kristin said, citing fellow PechaKucha presenter and glassblower Jake Harper. “We’re in love with San Antonio!” exclaimed Kristin. “I think there’s no better place to be if you’re an architect than San Antonio, right now,” Clay said.
Jake Zollie Harper is the glassblower – or, to be more precise, lampworker or torch worker – behind Zollie Glass Studio, a workspace and gallery featuring the work of Harper and many other local artists. Amada Miller, a graphic designer, artist, and the owner of Hello Studio. The gallery focuses on featuring the work of young, emerging artists in San Antonio and Austin.
Chandeliers, light fixtures, tumblers and ornate pieces of stemware are of particular interest to Harper, who also frequently works with area artist Raygun Johns. Miller currently has an installation (comprised of just six sheets of corrugated plastic) featured in a window of the Kress Building, as a part of Public Art San Antonio’s X Marks The Art program. She designed the logos for Bakery Lorraine sweatshirts and menus, while Harper created the Bakery’s cabinet pulls.
The couple also collaborated on a project commissioned by The Granary to reproduce and paint the restaurant’s iconic pig logo on a large brick wall, and works together to incorporate Miller’s designs on Harper’s glass pieces. “I think San Antonio is incredibly ripe for creative people,” Harper said.
Upon moving to the city twelve years ago, Joey Fauerso’s first positive impression of the San Antonio art scene came from an installation in the Cadillac Lofts by Riley Robinson; large spheres constructed of beach chairs. Fauerso and Robinson were introduced soon after. “It was like meeting an art star. Riley Robinson!” she said. “And we’ve been together ever since.”
Fauerso named Robinson and herself as advocates, behind the scenes helpers, studio assistants, and champions for each other, though their relationship is more than a partnership between two artists – the couple’s two young children make for a collaboration of four.
“Our process is a whole integration. We take our kids to make our work with us.” Discussing the lengthy process of envisioning, proposing, and executing such commissions, Robinson expressed his appreciation for Fauerso: “I could count on Joey for advice and help.”
While Fauerso calls Robinson a “fabrication genius,” she makes paintings, videos, and animations, including a recent video called “Me Time,” which she describes as, “me making out with a series of really sexy puppets.”
When Rick and Angela Martinez moved to San Antonio from Albuquerque in 2000, they fell in love with the downtown area but noticed the conspicuous lack of an art-film theater and an independent video store. In 2002 they opened Planet of the Tapes, which Angela described as “more than a store; it was a place for music, art, and community events,” and used the storefront to host events such as a 2004 film series, “In the Public Domain,” which featured no-license required B movies.
At the invitation of the owners of La Tuna, the couple screened nearly 90 films on a nearby slab before it sold in 2008, including the licensed film Breaking Away, sponsored by Bike City, and the 1929 silent film The Wizard of Oz, accompanied by a group of musicians.
Hemisfair became the next Slab Cinema venue. The screen, 18 by 27 feet, allowed Rick and Angela to screen movies like the 1922 horror film Nosferatu, during which Dracula made an appearance from the balcony of the Magik Theater. Slab Cinema has expanded to such venues as Main Plaza, the Alamo Street Eat Bar, Sunset Station and the Botanical Gardens. “The outdoor cinema is an incredible community builder, and provides us with the opportunity to make memories with our own children and the city as a whole,” said Angela. “That’s what keeps this show going on.”
Before beginning her the presentation, Cathy Cunningham-Little made a clarifying statement. “Contrary to what Facebook has put out there I am still married to Ken Little, and I’m also not 18 years old.” The audience tittered. “That was my last girlfriend,” Ken chimed in.
The artists work in parallel but not together, sharing a studio building downtown. Cathy’s work is “perception-based,” she explained, as images of colorful and eye-boggling paintings and glass light reflection pieces filled the screen. She recently completed a sculpture for the University Health Center Downtown Clinical Services Building, in which 4000 pieces of hanging, colored glass suggest the spiraling architecture of a double helix.
Ken produces large and exquisitely crafted sculptures. One of the most poignant pieces he presented was a sculptural outline of the continental United States. He described the nation’s border as “a mixture of actual geologic elements and imagined lines strung across the landscape.” Constructed of a white picket fence, however, the sculpture implied a multifaceted meaning. “It’s a simple garden fence with no gates that is meant to keep out unwanted pests,” Ken said. “It’s a symbol of the American Dream; it’s also a symbol of the American nightmare.”
Guitar player Jesse Basham was “the first and only one who responded in complete sentences” to singer/songwriter Nicolette Good’s Craigslist advertisement. Upon reading his coherent reply, she said to herself, “That’s my guy!” Good and Basham explained the narrative of several songs from the 2012 album Monarch before playing a live sample.
In one of the featured songs, the speaker’s feelings of hesitation toward a relationship are suggested by melodic meanders between major and minor scales. “If you don’t know what that means, well, that’s why I get paid tons and tens of folk dollars and you don’t,” Good joked.
Her smooth, effortless voice had the audience hanging on each of the lovely and often clever lyrics. Basham accompanied on banjo, an instrument he didn’t learn until days before the CD release show. He said that their song “Pretty Clementine,” based loosely on the folk tune “My Darling Clementine,” incorporated electric guitar and a minor key. “We…even added the sound of chain dropping on plywood to convey the sounds of a working goldmine.”
The final song, which you can view below thanks to Marc Toppel, “Hurricane Caroline,” describes both a young woman that Good knew personally and an archetype that anyone might have married, divorced, or taken out a restraining order against. “It’s a fine line between a good time and family brawl,” sang Good. “She would stay up late and piss the night away with chocolate, wine, and Adderall.”
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.]
Past coverage of PechaKucha on the Rivard Report:
Preview of PechaKucha 9: All is Fair in Love and… Work? (February 2012)
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)