San Antonio Secrets & Putting it all Together
This was the beginning of three nights in a row of art shows. The first event is at the McNay. It is always nice to visit here, both the grounds and the buildings are beautiful. The permanent collection and travelling shows that come through here are always impressive, as well. The talk today is Artists Looking At Art, featuring Ana Fernandez. Always enjoying her work, I also visited her solo show in Austin, at Women and Their Work, and previously wrote about it. Hunting out the originality of San Antonio, Fernandez presents her take on the authentic parts of the culture here. I learned how her family, particularly her Grandmother’s home, became a pivotal influence to her art, inspiring her original paintings. The home itself became a place of mystery for her early on in her life. Her slide show included many of the photo studies she did in preparation for her paintings, proving these places really exist. These photos were taken from the huge screen in the Chiego lecture hall, so their colors are not depicted accurately and there is some obvious distortion. However, the imagery was so great, I had to include them. Below, the real house is on the left, Fernandez’s painting on the right. While never painting the scene exactly as she found it, she captures the essence of these places, the most important part. This next image is another photo of a real house on the left. On the right is Fernandez coincidentally meeting a man who lives in that house. Randomly, he had wandered into her show at Joan Grona’s, instantly recognizing his dwelling. This photo was taken and printed in a publication. Sharing tales of her methodology, Fernandez searches around the city for her inspiration. Claiming she can never find anything when she is looking for something specific, just getting into her car to drive around reveals all the material she needs. The final part of Fernandez’s lecture took place in front of her painting currently on display in the Frost Octagon, in the front of the building. The standard size of her oil paintings are large scale. It was impressive to see so many of these on display at her show in Austin. I learned this particular piece was inspired by a family party going on as she drove by. The actual photo had a large family in it, but she decided to omit them, creating an eerie feeling of something missing from an event that was already in full swing. Instead, Fernandez represents the missing family by numbers on the chairs. The sole figures remaining are the ghostly silhouettes of two children in the bouncy castle, that were in her original photo. Fernandez gave a great lecture, explaining a lot about her work. Finding out what she was drawn to and why helped me understand how personal her work is and see it from a different view. While changing some details, she is preserving the unique history she has adopted as an adult and artist. From the McNay, I head across town to Bismarck Studios for Franctober-Fest, featuring the work of Franco Mondini-Ruiz. Never having been to this gallery before, I was impressed by its size and what an event they had going on. But of course, I have never been to a Mondini-Ruiz show that wasn’t an event. With beer, bratwurst, and umpah music, this was a fabulous Franco Mondini-Ruiz experience. Mondini-Ruiz typically makes two types of work: oil paintings and assemblages. I have been a fan of the assemblages for a while now, owning two of them already. La Mojada, the first piece I purchased from Mondini-Ruiz, is smart and comical. It is a white porcelain female head, swimming across a cup of tea. Since then, I search through the seemingly endless amount of art he creates for his shows, looking for other pieces that I connect with. Mondini-Ruiz will never be accused of not working on his art, every art show I have ever been to has an insane amount of art that he has produced. Having been to his lecture at SAMA a few years ago and reading his interviews, he says he makes art for all people, all incomes. Primarily making his profits from his large scale paintings, he lets his assemblages go sometimes for a price that is “artist affordable”. Remember, all art is normally negotiable. Seriously, if he had not lowered the price, I wouldn’t be able to afford even one piece. Mondini-Ruiz is quite a character, and easily recognizable in his trademark stripped pants. When I arrived at this show, I didn’t really have any intention of buying anything. I am broke right now, after all. But after talking to him, my husband bought me a new piece I had been admiring, Bubble Boy, in the price range of our other pieces. Mondini-Ruiz even convinced my friend that came with us to buy a piece as well. We probably should have left then, but the we were having such a great time! Eventually, Mondini-Ruiz charmed the pants off of us and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. We bought another piece, and I left with the biggest assemblage there, the priciest. It was such an incredible deal, we could not pass it up. This was a fantastic and exciting night. I love going out to see art, it is always inspiring. Beginning with a great lecture and finishing up by walking away with two pieces of art that I love, I really can never predict what may happen. Mondini-Ruiz is the artist I own the most pieces from, now owning four. Next is Linda Arredondo and Barbara Justice, having two pieces from each artist. I may have to write a blog about the wonderful pieces that my collection is comprised of. It is a small but growing collection, and are all pieces that I admire.