Time for another opening at the Southwest School of Art (SSA), which means time for another double duty day at the school. Working at two different positions in the school is a little odd but quintessential of my self employment, working about 9 hours divided up through out the day. I begin my day by opening the Gallery Shop on the Ursuline Campus from 10-2. The Gallery Shop will be closing very soon, by then end of the year. This will be my last time working half day due to an Exhibition Opening, and only about four more weeks till the closing date of December 29th. Having a couple of hours off in the day, I run errands, eat, and get ready to return. As Bartender for the openings, I am responsible for setting up the reception area and making sure I have everything I need, and then, of course, the break down of everything after the reception closes. The best part is getting to talk to everyone as they make their way around the exhibit. I discuss a possible curatorial opportunity with Meredith Dean that she recommended me for, as well as talk to several other people I haven’t seen in a while. As I answer the standard questions about what I am currently doing/working on, I realize I really do have a lot going on. My studio being the biggest and most immediate project, Seven Minutes in Heaven 2013 a close second.
Sun She Rise, Sun She Set, and You Ain’t Seen Texas Yet, work by Anita Valencia, is an incredible installation taking up the first, larger gallery space. Using common, discarded materials, she produced an entire environment re-purposing everyday items such as tin cans, bottle caps and wire hangers. Valencia brings these items to life as she turns them into objects in motion – including butterflies, tumbleweed, and a twister – and displays them in a way to welcome the viewer to meander through the new environment. Such an engaging exhibit is taking a serious issue and calling attention in a whimsical and playful manner. Upon further inspection, I notice butterflies bearing logos such as Pepsi or Tecate, discussing consumerism and consumption. The sheer number of butterflies alone represent a frightening number of discarded cans. As an artist myself reusing materials, I am interested in how an artist presents existing objects and whether it references it’s original use. I remember seeing Valencia’s exhibit at Cactus Bra a few years ago, which was much different. Still re-using common objects, those pieces were comprised of bottle caps on canvases. I much prefer this new environment as the language of her materials. Valencia just keeps getting better and better, I think understanding her materials more as she continues to create.
In the adjoining, much darker room is the work of Justin Boyd. Days and Days relates to Valencia by also discussing his surrounding environment, but in a much different way. Exhibiting his work in small, wall mounted boxes, each one contains a collage of found objects, expanding this definition to including sound recorded above and below the water, as well as video. The combined elements were all collected from the San Antonio River, making this piece about a specific environment. These polished boxes present an individual view of a more personal experience, records of his time spent on the river, by where Boyd lives. Having also previously exhibited a sound installation at Cactus Bra, Boyd’s sound piece there was of another environment. Presented much differently, as a large, rough, plywood painting of a broken tree, having to do with mining, I believe, it was quite a while ago. But he did create another sound piece dealing with the San Antonio River for the San Antonio Museum of Art, when they had an exhibit about water a few years ago. That was a large piece to partially walk around. Not presented as intimate collections, as in this current series. Since I work at SSA, I know the pieces are more complicated than the display allows the viewer to see. I will sometimes have the responsibility of turning them on in the morning when I occasionally open up the Gallery. I really enjoy that each box has to be turned on individually, slowing turning the room alive with sound as I make my way to each box.
While this work is very different from mine, I find it inspiring and thoughtful. Both artists are documenting what exists around them, with all the works constructed from objects, sounds, and imagery collected locally in San Antonio. These bodies of work interest me as individual points of views from within the same city. I suppose my work is yet one of many other perspectives, born and raised in San Antonio. My current work begins with the environment I am surrounded and influenced by, my installations discuss memories and experiences that I feel were a part of forming my identity, expanding into what we ultimately choose to let create our identities and influence our everyday lives. Using everyday objects such as bird cages, laptops, and pill bottles, I want to create discussions about the life we live and the life we are creating, directly referencing what takes place daily. I will continue to draw inspiration from what I surround myself with everyday.
One of my favorite jobs is working for the Southwest School of Art Gala. For the last three years, I have handled the drop off and pick up of the artwork for the annual benefit Gala. This is one of my favorite jobs because I get to talk with so many artists, gallerists, or assistants. In general, 55-65 artists generously participate. While I always know a few of the artists already, I still get to meet so many new people. This is what I do best, work with the art and artists. Yes, anybody could probably figure out how to do this, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know how much paperwork there is for 65 artists? And more if they have multiple works. It is mostly bureaucratic work, just making sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted, it’s part of the job. That is the easy part. The more difficult part can come with actually dealing with artists (and sometimes their egos). Yes, I have also been treated badly on occasion, although, never for the Gala. Luckily, I have a wonderful boss that listens and takes care of problems like that. Being able to deal with artists and issues that may arise diplomatically may possibly be the most important part of this job. When they are dropping off their work, I am representing the Southwest School of Art. A bad experience could affect future relationships with the school. It’s amazing how loving your job keeps you in a great mind set and dealing with people becomes much less difficult than if I were already stressed by my job. The other major benefit of working to set up this event is attending the Preview Cocktail Party and the Gala itself. The cocktail party is a fabulous event I always enjoy. It’s great to see the work displayed in the Chapel of the school, it’s a really beautiful location. At the Cocktail Party I am a guest and enjoy mingling with the artists in a social setting. I get to view the art unwrapped and installed. Occasionally I help with installations, but not for this event. It’s nice not to have to do physical labor. Although, I do always accept those jobs as well! The Gala is a black tie formal event the following night. Here, I did volunteer, working at the sales desk, again with a different set of paperwork. Is this a common theme? I don’t think artists really consider everything that goes on behind the art shows – before, during, and after. Keeps me working! There were many fabulous pieces of art. I love the work by Jennifer Ling Datchuk. Her ceramics always look so delicate and feminine. When I saw her, I discussed a piece of her work I had seen years ago in another show. Choke was a beautiful set of hands protruding from the wall grasping a cloth. These pieces are porcelain plates mixed with embroidery, something I haven’t seen in her work before that I enjoy very much. Another favorite of mine is Sarah Roberts. I recently wrote about her work when I had visited her shared studio space for a show at Clamp Light Gallery. I specifically enjoy the way she manipulates something as cold as aluminum into something so feminine and soft looking. The way the shadows cast from the light is also a lovely detail of this art. In fact, I believe the title of this piece, Her Body is My Body, makes the shadows an integral part of her concept. At the Gala, I got to try on Roberts’ second piece, a beautiful necklace. It matched my dress and fit me perfectly. It was for a really great price at $250 and half would go to the school. Unfortunately, I still cannot afford it today, although I fingered my credit card several times. Maybe in the future I can have one custom made for me, in red? William Carrington’s bronze rabbit has a very haunting face that I am in love with. Even the piece of wood it is set on is beautiful. Another piece I admire is by Ruth Buentello. I was just at an opening at Artpace recently where the artists collective that Buentello is a part of, Mas Rudas, did the Window Works. That installation as well as this piece both show a strong connection to family (or the absence of it). Working for the Gala is always a great experience. As usual, combining work and art is exactly what I want to be doing. I really could care less if my desk was a folding table for today. I am in a gorgeous historic building with a beautiful view – no cubicle for me! The last part of the job is being there the morning after the Gala for the pick up of the artwork by the artists and buyers. It’s so simple, but thanking each artist for participating is extremely important. It’s a benefit event and they donated their art. We have to express our gratitude for helping the school at our largest benefit event each year.