San Antonio Collects: Contemporary at SAMA
Yesterday was the last day I could make it to the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) to see San Antonio Collects: Contemporary, an exhibition of art from the private collections of San Antonio, including pieces from the late Linda Pace’s collection, before it closes this week. It is an impressive collection amassed here in San Antonio, giving me a rare glimpse into what is displayed in the expensive homes throughout the city. This impressive show includes internationally known artists, but also clearly recognizes the local talent from right here in San Antonio. This show focuses on the contemporary private collections, showcasing that San Antonians have excellent taste in art, and why many artists continue to work and be inspired in this bursting art scene.
Upon entering the room, an expanded accordion by Christian Marclay is the first sculpture to welcome you. To this point I have only seen Marclay’s film work, however, the accordion fits appropriately into his ongoing ideas about sound and music. His video, The Clock, 2010, was well received and reviewed, earning him a place in the 2011 Venice Biennale, leading Newsweek to name him one of the most important artists of today. Extending from the usual size, this expanded piece reminds me that sound can be made by anything and how any sound can be composed into music. A few months ago, I did get to view Telephones, 1995, at the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. I was unaware Marclay had done a residency at Artpace in 1999, where this piece was created. Proof that Artpace and their guest curators recognizes outstanding talent.
Chakaia Booker is also included in the exhibit. I have been inspired by her work since she gave a lecture at Blue Star when I was an art student. She had completed so many pieces, she just walked around the audience, clicking the projector through her vast collection of images, choosing to show her immense her body of work, only stopping on a few key pieces to discuss specifically. Booker has a piece in the McNay permanent collection that I enjoy going to view. Her works are conversations about the environment, re purposing rubber tires as her primary material. At the lecture, she was asked where she got all of the tires, as she has created some massive public sculptures. Booker laughed, responding that tires where everywhere and free. Since her lecture, I have included rubber to my stock pile of art supplies. She was absolutely correct. They are plentiful and cost nothing but the time it takes to stop your car and throw them in the trunk.
A large portrait of Linda Pace by Chuck Ramirez was displayed. Not the traditional portraiture you would expect, Ramirez did a series of intimate Purse Portraits, revealing the secrets a woman hides and carries around with her in her purse. Louis (Linda), 2005, exposed the contents of Pace’s purse, in a large 60″ x 48″ format. Often very personal, this series exposes a private, yet functional side of his subjects, needing and using the objects carried around, yet the inside of a purse is personal, secretive. Ramirez takes this commercial approach to portraiture, isolating the subject, making it the only thing for the viewer to contemplate without distraction.
Other pieces I enjoyed in this exhibition included two pieces from Robert Longo, an artist that I have always found inspiring. The large, contorted bodies of his subjects are both awkward and entrancing to look at, again, a different way to view portraiture. His subjects are dressed for business while their poses reveal another reality, almost as if they were just struck. In my silhouette paintings, I have been using very feminine imagery, however, I have been interested in a more unusual body image, influenced by Longo, expanding from the more common femme fatale. There are a few people that have expressed interest in modeling for me using a trampoline to get a falling sensation from different body poses. Now if I could just find a trampoline to use…
Another notable San Antonio artist included is Alex Rubio. His huge piece, 4 Horsemen, takes imagery from the Book of Revelations, discussing apocalyptic themes, while updating into his signature style. Representing Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death with skeletal figures, he expands the imagery to include healing remedies for each of these world issues. Also included is a bird representing each of the subjects he tackles on the canvas, a living symbol of the horrors that will one day be the end of civilization. Of course, these are just a few of the fantastic pieces included in this exhibition. There is no possible way to discuss all of the wonderful art work on display, so I had to just highlight a few that stood out for me. Artists were represented from coast to coast, including Jeff Koons turning childhood memories into iconic sculptures, and a sleek, polished industrial board from John McCracken. This has been one of my favorite shows curated by David Rubins at SAMA. I am so glad I was able to make it, before this exhibition closes later this week.