Tickets sold out early for the 17th PechaKucha San Antonio event at the McNay Art Museum – just as the happy hour began at 6:30 p.m. A word of advice for those interested in attending the next event at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in May: when tickets go on sale online, get them. If you can't do that, show up at 6 p.m.
A capacity audience of 400 people filled the event space for the increasingly popular event that featured eight entertaining and educational rapid-fire presentations of creative thinking and work from a succession of artists, an architect, a social media journalist, a competitive Scrabble enthusiast, a home inspector, and other interesting locals. The event always attracts an interesting mix of young professionals, Baby Boomers, and family members of all ages (though it's defiantly PG-13).
The night began, as it always does, with a comedic warm-up and introduction into the world of PechaKucha from longtime WOAI-TV anchor Randy Beamer. Each presenter, selected by PechaKucha San Antonio's volunteer staff through a simple application process, gets 20 slides in a PowerPoint-esque format. The twist is, the slide show is automated to allow only 20 seconds per slide – then it's onto the next. The result is a fast-paced presentation, one that is often insightful, emotional, educational, and usually, entertaining, on a range of topics from "this is what I do for a living" pitches to far more elcletic "who knew?" peeks into the eccentric pursuits of others.
"Some of it's funny, some of its sad. Some of it is not meant to be funny or sad, but it will be," Beamer said.
The PKSA team experienced its first episode of technical difficulties, but they were resolved soon enough and the presentations ensued. In the spirit of PechaKucha's short and sweet attitude, I'll try to keep these brief to tease you to come to the next event. I'll let photojournalist Scott Ball's work say the rest (see photos at top and below).
Architect Richard Mogas: Equitable Architecture
From low-income housing to mansions in McCallen, sustainable design is always an option. His goal is to "make architecture accessible to as many people as possible without making it an elitist process – everyone should be able to afford good architecture."
Artist Lauren Browning: How to Love Abstract Art
"Seek out your favorite part and save the rest for later – or never." Look for movement, balance, and use of light. Sculptures find inspiration in nature, she said, recalling that an artist friend of hers stopped in her tracks to admire mold on a concrete walkway.
Scrabbler Alex Rivard: That's Not a Word
Advice: Memorize the Cheat Sheet, but never get caught actually cheating. Parting words: "Tournament Scrabble is a force for good in the world. See you in Reno (at the national championships in July)."
Artist Jack McGilvry: This is My Other Family
"No one said smile for the camera for the first time I can remember," she said, describing the night her father was arrested when she was a child and her bruises were photographed by police. "To address social issues in art is an attempt to effect change and give a voice to that which is overlooked. It is to advocate for the ignored."
Executive Director Taj Matthews: What Can You Do For Your Community?
The Claude & Zernona Black Developmental Leadership Foundation changes lives every day by introducing at-risk children and teens to people, places, and opportunities they would normally never get to see. "Why are those things necessary? To remove many of the excuses that many of these young people have; 'no one cared,' 'no one showed me these things,' 'I didn't know there was something better out there.' "
Artist Ryan Takaba: Buddhism in Honolulu
“Every morning my grandmother, who is now 90, visits my (deceased) grandfather” kept alive in a bedroom shrine. His latest installation is modified each day for 49 days, an intimate ceremony of nature and family. Each piece also changes the space/environment around it in subtle but symbolic ways.
Home Inspector Larry Wedige: It's the Best Job I've Ever Had
Kittens stuffed in mason jars, the great Fire Ant versus Yellow Jacket war, the dangers of laundry lint, good thing Wedige has X-ray – rather, thermal imaging – vision for his home inspection business.
Media Consultant Sarah Fisch: Praising the Aardvark of New Media
Born with “pediatric resting bitch face,” Fisch is a writer and comedian currently navigating the world of social media consultancy with ADHD, which is, she said, an advantage for all multitaskers. "It's pretty impossible, especially right now, for an arts writer to make a living."