Thriving On and Off Fred Studio Tour Kicks Off This Friday

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Bihl Haus Arts hosts the annual Autograph Party. Photo by Page Graham.

The On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour kicks off the ninth year of this popular neighborhood art crawl on Friday, Feb. 19, 6-9 p.m., with the annual Autograph Party.

Studio tours take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, 11a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21, noon to 5 p.m.

The opening reception is hosted at Bihl Haus Arts, the original organizing entity celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Representative works by participating artists will serve as a prime opportunity to identify your studio favorites in advance.

LosNahuatlatos, whose signature style features a blend of “skajunto, hiphop cumbia, surfer polka rock, and reggae yhuapango,” will provide live music for the Autograph Party. Surrounding the pool, there will be Locosan’s Bihl Haus Blue Cyanotype Print Project. This is an opportunity to make – and take home – a handmade print on the spot. Sabra Booth’s “Slick” installation, housed in a 1964 Streamline Travel Trailer, will also be on display. Hors d’oeuvres and liquid libations will be offered up by the always gracious Golden Horizons volunteers who are ubiquitous at any Bihl Haus Arts community gathering.

Richard Arredondo discusses his word during the 2015 tour. Photo by Page Graham.

Richard Arredondo discusses his word during the 2015 tour. Photo by Page Graham.

The tour is supported in part by the City of San Antonio’s Department for Culture and Creative Development (DCCD), the Texas Commission on the Arts and the WellMed Charitable Foundation.

Bihl Haus Arts Director Kellen Kee McIntyre also gives kudos to Councilmember Cris Medina (D7) and his staff for “always being willing to help us out in any way they can with our special projects.”

“From the start, our focus was on the artists who live and work in neighborhoods on and off Fred Road,” McIntyre said. “The tour began with about 25 area artists at 28 locations. Artist participation has more than tripled over the past nine years, while the tour’s footprint remains about the same. From the beginning we have tried to be sensitive to the needs of our neighborhoods while promoting the rich artistic resource that was already here and that has continued to grow over the past decade.”

The 2016 Fred Tour, as it is fondly referred to, is the largest arts tour of its kind in the city and will feature the works of more than 80 artists at 49 different locations. According to McIntyre, there will be another 250 or so guest artists including musicians, visual artists and poets featured.

There is a comprehensive printed catalogue available in advance for $10 at participating locations that makes it easy to map out your tour strategy and is chock-full of pithy information. You can also access the catalogue online for $5. Or, you can just wander around and search for the yellow signage and balloons that denote participating venues, but I can’t recommend the latter. Keep in mind that this catalogue purchase is your ticket for two to the Autograph Party and one other official event – theatre performances excluded. Catalogues will continue to be available at Bihl Haus Arts throughout the weekend for $15.

Autograph Party at Bihl Haus Arts. February 2015. Photo by Page Graham.

Autograph Party at Bihl Haus Arts. February 2015. Photo by Page Graham.

“The tour is up by almost 8% over last year, with a number of new artists as well as some who have returned this year,” McIntyre said.

The majority of these studios are not usually open to the public. This is an opportunity for a fascinating look behind the scenes into where and how an artist works.

This weekend is also a great way to experience the wonderful classic neighborhoods of Los Angeles Heights, Monticello Park, Jefferson, Woodlawn Lake, Keystone, Beacon Hill, and Alta Vista. These communities border Fredericksburg Road and can be reached by auto, bus, bike, or on foot if you happen to be in the ’hood.

While visiting a warm-up event at Hausmann Millworks in Alta Vista, artist Rex Hausmann underscored the importance of this event.

“I got my first museum show ever, from On and Off Fred,” he explained to a gathering of Millworks artists. “Do not underestimate the crowd that comes through here. You never know what opportunity that you will run into.”

Rex Hausmann shows off conceptual sketches commissioned by the McNay Art Museum, 2014. Photo by Page Graham.

Rex Hausmann shows off conceptual sketches commissioned by the McNay Art Museum, 2014. Photo by Page Graham.

The Millworks has been in operation since it was founded by Rex’s dad, Gene Hausmann and his partner Wally Johns at the Southwest Craft Center, now known as the Southwest School of Art, in 1976. Gene and wife Renee took over the design and fabrication business in 1993, a successful venture creating special furnishings for courthouses, embassies and corporate offices.

It was in 2008 that the Hausmann family shifted focus from custom manufacturing to art. Today, there is a creative environment of 28 active studios with plans to expand to 23 more in the next year or so.

This is but one example of the thriving arts businesses encompassed within the footprint of Fred. Many artists return year after year. It is also a guarantee that you will see new faces and fresh work each year. Many collectors and arts enthusiasts make this tour an annual pilgrimage.

Mark your calendar to spend at least part, if not all, of your weekend wandering among the creative class. Many studios offer refreshment, but be prepared to take a break at one or two of the many restaurants and neighborhood watering holes that you will find along the way.

Bihl Haus is the 90-year-old structure located within the walls of Primrose at Monticello Park Senior Apartments. It’s the only professional nonprofit gallery on the premises of a 100 percent senior, affordable housing establishment in the United States. Entertainment will be offered throughout the weekend in addition to what you will find on the tour.


*Top image: Bihl Haus Arts hosts the annual Autograph Party. Photo by Page Graham.

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3 thoughts on “Thriving On and Off Fred Studio Tour Kicks Off This Friday

  1. It was my comment last year, and, unfortunately, it’s likely to be repeated in coming years, given the pace of work (and it’s absolutely no reflection on the excellent efforts of the On and Off group and event).

    It’s now the ninth year of the On and Off Fred walking tour and still no substantial improvement to sidewalks or walking conditions on and off the part of Fred[ericksburg Road] highlighted with this event

    There’s still no safe (or ADA accessible) way to walk or roll Fred from planned event spaces in the Deco District to event spaces in Beacon Hill, a distance of roughly a mile – due to the lack of any formal sidewalk between Agarita and Mulberry, a span of about 500 feet that effectively cuts off the two neighborhoods (and bus stops and businesses including an HEB):,-98.5195079,3a,90y,359.02h,60.47t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1soRp3f5ZMY33WsuumFgMW8g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656,-98.5195079,3a,90y,161.31h,65.36t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1soRp3f5ZMY33WsuumFgMW8g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Along with making it nearly impossible to walk from the PRIMO bus stops at Mary Louise to the PRIMO bus stops at Huisache (less than a mile and what should be an easy way for riders to increase their daily steps in between buses running every 15 minutes or more), this sidewalk severing also cuts off Deco District access to the planned Martinez Creek trail . . . which somehow is still not complete, despite being planned in 2011 (as a network of roughly four miles of neighborhood connecting Westside Creek Trails – Martinez Creek Trail to Alazan Creek Trail, joining at Mario Farias Park and with Apache Creek Trail and San Pedro Creek Trail further south):

    Not surprisingly this is also one of many sections of Fred where a pedestrian has been killed by traffic in recent years, including since the installation of PRIMO bus stops and services along Fred:

    The disregard for (if not baiting of) walkers and rollers along this annually celebrated stretch of Fred is apparent even in the recent street maintenance, where traffic lanes were re-painted but long faded designated pedestrian crossing areas at various intersections and to bus stops were not. As well as along roads just off Fred in the Deco District that have recently been resurfaced but where ADA sidewalk ramps have not been installed (contrary to Federal law):

    The (annual) lesson here is that plans, public campaigns, events, businesses, current street maintenance regimes and even major transit investments won’t make San Antonio a more safe and walkable city – even in historically walkable sections of San Antonio.

    We need Council to take action a to do what’s right to fix key breaks and deficiencies in San Antonio’s walking and biking network NOW and at a high standard (Convention Center / Downtown HEB quality) – starting with spots where pedestrians have been killed or injured. Council also needs to complete long planned creek trails and other neighborhood connecting walking and biking improvements before moving on to the next big plan or effort.

    A monthly report (published by the Rivard Report?) on physical improvements completed related to the City’s new Vision Zero and VIA’s new VIAware commitments could help greatly with moving San Antonio towards more action than talk.

    • (Yes, I know we are off topic) I completely agree. And while I know that Fred straddles districts 1 and 7, I can say that my councilman (D7 Cris Medina) has shown zero desire to take initiative on this topic… despite repeated requests directed to him and his staff over many years.

      The Bihl Haus building is itself an outstanding example of why neighbors (and, by extension, San Antonio) can and should demand better. The positive effects of this gallery would never have been realized if the original plan to bulldoze it had occurred.

      Back ON topic, it always makes me smile when I think of both the longevity and ever increasing stature of the tour. Well done… again!

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