The popular event will begin, as usual, with a happy hour featuring snacks and drinks at 6:30 p.m. and the presentations that make up PechaKucha Night (PKN). It's always an entertaining and educational evening, eight rapid-fire presentations of creative thinking and work from a succession of artists, architects, chefs, hobbyists, and other creatives.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., but get there early. The night is often a sellout long before the metaphorical curtain rises.
Drink and snack lines form quickly, and seats fill up fast at what may be the best one-night show in town. Entry is a token $5 donation at the door, less than the Uber ride home. PKN attracts an audience as interesting as its presenters. Longtime WOAI-TV anchorman Randy Beamer emcee the events, and PKN attendees have grown accustomed to offering him unsolicited direction as the show goes on, especially when he intentionally mispronounces "pit-chi-kacha" or asks a presenter a particularly lame question.
More than 500 guests gathered at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre for the November PechaKucha, perhaps the best-attended event in the local chapter's history. That particular evening also marked the beginning of the organization's partnership with Las Casas Foundation, along with Zurich International Properties, St. Mary’s University, Lake/Flato Architects, Bicycle Heaven, Centro Properties, and Insite Architects. The Rivard Report is a media sponsor of PKN San Antonio.
Find out more about PechaKucha and how it has spread to more than 800 cities around the world from its origins in Tokyo at www.pechakucha.com.
Here are brief biographies of the PKN17 presenters as provided by organizers in no particular order (honest, we don't know the battle order):
Lauren Browning, Sculptor
Lauren Browning is an artist who specializes in carving stone to make flowing, organic sculptures. Rocks have always been her focus. Before becoming a full-time artist in 2007, she earned a doctorate in geology and worked as a research scientist on projects for NASA and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Sarah Fisch, New Media Consultant
Sarah Fisch is a native San Antonian. She spent eight years in New York writing children’s books and performing stand-up comedy before becoming an arts journalist. She’s written for The Village Voice, LA Weekly, the British magazine New Statesman, and contributes regularly to the San Antonio Current, the Rivard Report and Glasstire. She recently launched Go Fisch New Media, a digital branding and social media consultancy.
Taj I. Matthews, Executive Director
Taj I. Matthews is the President and CEO of the Claude & ZerNona Black Developmental Leadership Foundation, where he works to preserve legacy and works of his late grandparents. In this role, he operates youth leadership programs designed to mentor and develop at risk teens and juvenile offenders, senior citizen assistance programs, and the creation of the Claude Black Heritage Center and Research Library.
Taj has served on the board of People’s Choice Federal Credit Union, San Antonio Association of Black Journalists and the San Antonio Empowerment Zone. He is the coauthor of the book "Grandpa Was A Preacher: A Letter To My Grandson" with the late Rev. Claude Black Jr. He has also been a featured columnist for The Florida Times-Union, WJXT Channel 4, and The Atlanta Martin Luther King Center’s Realizing the Dream Organization. After residing in Jacksonville for 17 years, Taj returned to San Antonio with his wife Cheryl Lynette Matthews, daughter De’Asia and son Taj Omari to serve his native community.
Jack McGilvray, Social Artist
Jack McGilvray grew up in the California town of Lodi. She earned her BFA in Photography from Texas State University and MFA in Photography and Integrated Media from Ohio University. Jack spends her time as an Exhibitions and Programs Manager at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, teaching, and making her work about issues surrounding family and identity.
Richard Mogas, Architect
Richard Mogas established his architectural practice 36 years ago and has worked extensively throughout the state of Texas and beyond. His firm’s work has always embraced the philosophy of valuing the reader over the author and believes that each project the firm takes on comes with its own unique sets of challenges and goals. His firm has been widely published in several books, magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times. Richard has presented papers on architecture to various groups and has used his university teaching to inspire his students to think about architecture holistically.
In 2010, Richard’s office founded the Community Design Studio, which provides pro bono architectural services to nonprofits and those that the design team feels are in need of their expertise. Projects to date include remodeled offices for RAICES and the restoration work of Lerma’s, a project owned by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Continuously pursuing both architecture and art that motivates the observer, Richard has been making and exhibiting his art work throughout the State for the past 45 years, and is represented locally by the REM Gallery.
Alex Rivard, Competitive Scrabble Player
Alexander Rivard grew up in San Antonio . He studied American history at Texas State University, cut his culinary teeth in Boston, and moved back to San Antonio in 2013. Alex is currently an instructor at Central Market’s cooking school and lives in Dignowity Hill. Other than playing Scrabble, he spends time in the Texas Hill Country, plays music, takes pictures of food, and obsesses over the Spurs. He has a lovable rescue puppy named Brisket.
Ryan Takaba, Ceramic Artist
Ryan Takaba’s studio practice stems from his interest in sculpture, function, architecture, and design, often exploring themes of transformation and daily ritual. He was born in Honolulu where he earned a fine arts degree from the University of Hawaii. Having lived on both coasts but not the Midwest, he decided to move to Ohio to pursue an MFA from Kent State University. There he met Jennifer Datchuk – wife and partner of the project Dim and Sum, a collection of porcelain objects for the home.
Larry Wedige, Home Inspector
Inspector Larry Wedige has been licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) as a Professional Real Estate Inspector since 2002. He is a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and is on the staff at San Antonio College as a home inspection instructor. Larry was born and raised right here in San Antonio. He has over 45 years of experience in building, repairing, and remodeling homes. This experience is combined with completion of the home inspector curriculum at San Antonio College, licensing by the TREC, and completion of hundreds of hours of home inspection continuing education.
*Featured/top image: The McNay Art Museum. Courtesy photo.