Visual Arts > Visual Arts
Oh, y'know: serapes, murales, the usual
Could the Techjano/a group show perform CPR on the Alameda?
First off, there’s that grito of a title: Techjano/a. It’s a term so allusive yet so damn sharp that it should’ve already entered the SATX lexicon as shorthand for a generational movimiento: Techjano/a could describe a musical mashup of styles; might refer to a conceptual marriage of Tejano regionalism with the worldwide revolution of information and networking; calls to mind a hybrid of tradition and rapid change; and will definitely prove comically unpronounceable (and maybe conceptually impenetrable) by most Anglo people from, say, the Upper Midwest.
Upon entering the Alameda’s first-floor Smithsonian Gallery, you’re hit with strong and audacious work tied to Tejano identity, as explored by a new generation entirely comfortable with a wide range of mixed media. If it’s murales you want, you got em; Albrechto Alvarez and Pedro Luera have made intensely elaborate, visceral, large-scale paintings which evince deep ambivalence about San Antonio traditions and history. Meanwhile, Ernest Gonzales plans a soundscape for the Wednesday, April 28, opening … and closing. Yes, Techjano/a is one night only. One night to view the temporary, site-specific murals. One night to witness Jimmy James Canales’s artfully altered serape-scape and the performance it engenders between Canales and collaborator-performer Maria Palma. After the show all these works will flicker like ghosts through the lens of digital media. In its evanescence, Techjano/a resembles Luminaria, but outstrips it in innovation and derring-do: actually Techjano/a’s less like Luminaria and more like Phantom Sightings, the explosive contemporary Xicano/a travelling exhibition that haunted the Alameda’s second floor last Spring.
It’s the new-media element of Techjano/a which will document the experience for the future. Kristen Gamez and Mari Hernandez employ video and still photography to comment on San Antonio and on the Alameda past and present, and on this very show, both as an almost-lost artifact and as a digital experience that theoretically lasts forever.
This art-experiment, facilitated by Alameda operations manager Ruben Luna, also behaves as a stop-gap measure: The building’s been dormant. It’s no secret that the Alameda’s in a financial black hole, and Guv’mint has stepped in numerous times, including last Thursday when City Council ordered that the City pay $450,000 through “certificates of obligation” (like nonprofit pledges on a civic level) so that the Alameda can, you know, continue to exist for the next year-and-a-half. This help depends on the Alameda coming up with a “viable business plan” in the next two months. If it can’t, the museum may become as evanescent as the temporary murals.
So: The potential of Tejano/a is enormous, the timeframe’s compressed, and the stakes are high. Also, while the artists spent the last week working like crazy, Fiesta raged just outside the window, its roar is distractingly audible even over the din of installation, a phenomenon Canales likens to “your little brother playing video games in the other room when you’re trying to do homework.” Fiesta was yet another participant in the Techjano/a dialogue, but Techjano/a will comprise its own short-lived Fiesta on Wednesday night. •