Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
The new Rivard Report offices in an historic St. Paul Square building will be home to an art gallery, named for the one-block street the former late 19th century hotel faces. Located at 126 Gonzales St., the Gonzales Gallery debuts Dec. 11 with InterSpace, a show of three San Antonio artists who exhibit in the city and around Texas.
Barbara Miñarro, Charlie Kitchen, and Amada Miller all work diligently to achieve different visions, with the commonality of geometric forms, patterns, and a sensibility of the handmade.
“All three artists investigate unique image-making processes,” said Katy Silva, Rivard Report advertising and marketing director who is a member of the Gonzales Gallery committee along with other staff.
Kitchen employs a custom in-camera mechanism for his landscape-within-landscape photographs, Miller uses locally sourced dyes such as avocado and cochineal, and a Miñarro weaving titled Por Arriba incorporates old clothing scraps from the United States and Mexico. Though highly individualized, all three visual languages “speak to one another,” Silva said.
Miñarro was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but grew up in McAllen. In addition to her weaving, an untitled series of photographs in the show are described by Silva as a “love letter” to Miñarro’s second hometown.
“For many people that live there it’s a boring place because it’s small, and they don’t really appreciate it,” Miñarro said. “But I saw it with different eyes” during her eight years there, she said.
The photographs focus on “ordinary niches” of McAllen, like apartment balconies and patterned brick walls, in order to both ruminate on everyday life there and subtly “explore the impact of humans on the environment in everyday actions,” she said.
A row of laundromat washing machines, circular mouths agape, are intended to reveal the resources that we use daily to make our lives better. A similarly patterned row of mailboxes in another image serves as a quiet reminder of the massive effort the postal service undertakes each day to deliver mail.
Miñarro used a 35-millimeter camera to make the black-and-white images, and developed each by hand. She said the process sharpened her focus on the minute details of the small-scale images, which she hopes to also convey to viewers.
Charlie Kitchen also makes his color photographs by hand, but with a specialized process that achieves multiple layers of visual space.
Like a modern-day Ansel Adams lugging his large-format camera to find grand American vistas, Kitchen begins with fairly standard natural landscape images. However, he uses hand-cut masks, often in geometric forms and patterns, to layer and confuse the images with other views inserted into the backgrounds. The resulting images seem to be of two or more things at once: shapes like cubes or triangles that hover within a monumental river valley or a stratified canyon wall.
Kitchen is interested in how a photograph can represent two-dimensional and three-dimensional space at the same time, and tries to create “a weird interaction between the two dimensions,” he said.
“There’s a visual contradiction that I’m into,” he said, between the visual fidelity of large-format photography and his off-kilter, handcut shapes.
Amada Miller begins with natural dyes to create vibrantly colored fabric, which she then cuts, sews, and combines into patterned paintings. “First I started as a painter and printmaker, then got into creating my own natural dyes," she said. "I taught myself how to sew and learned traditional craft processes with dye.”
“Women artists often weren’t mentioned” in histories of that era, Miller said, “yet their work often influenced their male peers. This body of work reframes the conversation, to talk about the history of female artists.”
An open call
Interspace runs through February 2019 and represents just the first round of artists in the Gonzales Gallery program, which will rotate new artists quarterly. San Antonio artists interested in submitting their portfolio to the open call for future rotations can apply here.
“The Rivard Report is all about recognizing the talent and potential of San Antonio, and this is one more way to fulfill our mission,” Silva said.
Interspace opens with a free public reception for the artists on Dec. 11. For those interested in attending, an RSVP is requested. The gallery is open by appointment, which can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.