FIRST ONLINE EDITION
A CurBlog arts round-up column by Sarah Fisch.
Some bad photos, some okay photos, some laughs, some screeds, and some useful information for artists and art-likers.
1. Well, alright, here’s a picture of a dead animal:
What, you don’t like it?
I don’t blame you. Life can be brutal.
This particular dead animal was found by San Antonio artist Danville Chadbourne at the bottom of a vase-like sculpture he’d had in storage for close to twenty years, if memory serves. He found it while reclaiming and restoring pieces from storage for Part I of his career retrospective, held at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center this past spring. I photographed it at his house/studio. He mentioned, maybe joking, doing some art about the critter.
It’s a little bitty ‘possum.
Here it is presented kind of touchingly in an archival way, boxed.
2. Now, then, here’s a photo of the makers of the public art adorning the new Museum Reach extension of the Riverwalk.
From left to right, that’s:
George Schroeder (bridge rail structures TK and stay tuned)
Donald Lipski (F.I.S.H.)
Carlos Cortés (Shade Tree and Grotto)
Bill Fontana (Sonic Passage)
Mark Schlesinger (Under the Over Bridge)
Rolando Briseño (shade structure TK)
Stuart Allen (29° 26’ 00” N / 98° 29’ 07” W and 29° 25’ 57” N / 98° 29’ 13” W)
and Martin Richman (Shimmer Field).
This admittedly unfocused phone photo was taken at the occasion of their SAMA panel discussion (moderated by David Rubin) on opening day of the museum reach. And, okay, it’s blurry as all git-out. I admit to sorta digging the “Last Supper’ steez of this shot though, all those distinguished dudes discussing amongst themselves (and, note, as in the Last Supper, a general dearth of melanin and vaginas.)
Huh—Bill Fontana seems to be in the Jesus position, here. And, like the Biblical Jesus, he didn’t say all that much, but what he did was thoughtful and to the point.
But this photo is like seeing the Last Supper panel as part of the Witness Protection program, each person reduced to broad strokes. But I also enjoy the blurry visual parameters of cel phone camera photography. It’s like early daguerreotype; some details you just have to take on faith, as the camera is not the eye, you know, all that shit.
This is a daguerreotype of some dudes who had nothing to do with the Museum Reach.
Anyhow, the panel discussion was very interesting. Each artist came off as impassioned, thoughtful, and committed to the project and to the city. And it was very cool to see projected slides of the pieces—the Martin Richman slides, in particular, brought the crowd (a surprisingly large one, given that it was a Saturday afternoon) to spontaneous applause.
A Q&A period following brought some interesting queries, including one from a VERY CONCERNED LADY about protecting the artworks from vandalism. At this point, Mike Addkison, the River Foundation’s stellar project manager, got on the mic, explaining that while art placement and materials were designed to protect the art somewhat, graffiti is as old as Pompeii, and preventing it as a human phenomenon may not be feasible, seeing as how San Anto is a living city whose contours and colors change continually.
I asked the panel—specifically, the San Antonians—how it felt to make public art for their hometown. Kind of a corny question, I know, but I’m from here, and I am NOT MADE OF STONE.
George Schroeder’s response was terrific, addressing how exciting it is to participate in public art at a time when San Antonio’s visual arts have evolved so quickly and well, comparing the scene now to ten years ago, and how pleased he is with being a part of something people can enjoy “for at least 500 years,” he said, speaking about his sturdy and gorgeous (and yet-to-be-installed) metal bridge railing structures. YES, HE SAID 500 YEARS, which brought anther spontaneous round of applause from the audience. That was in answer to a question about how long the artist’s works will last, actually, not my question, but still. GEORGE SCHROEDER’S THINKING IN 500-YEAR TERMS. I like it.
Rolando Briseño is also a native San Antonian whose bridge railing adornments have yet to go up. He’s designed shade structures, a real future boon to any future walker under our jacked-up sun, and like Schroeder’s piece, they’re (tentatively) slated to go up this Fall. I will most definitely keep you posted. In talking about what designing public art for his hometown means to him, Rolando Briseño talked about riding his bike on the river’s banks with his cousins, as a kid, and loving the beauty of the WPA-era development, and how tragicomic it felt, years later, that the only news stories you’d hear about the River walk “was when someone got beat up.” It means a lot to him to see the river open up as joyful space. A true native son, he talked about the necessity of shade, and the collective longing to pause, to rest, reflect, hang out, enjoy the river as a living part of the life of the city he loves. He got emotional. So did I, listening.
Carlos Cortés talked about the importance and profundity of family tradition, how creating the grotto and shade tree using techniques he learned at his father’s and great-uncle’s elbows connected past with the future, the intimate and familial with the public, how ingrained public space and the beautifying of it is to him, written as it is into his family’s legacy. He’s not pushing his own kids into it, he said, but who knows?
Also, Mark Schlesinger noted that while he isn’t a native San Antonian, his kid’s growing up here, and related an anecdote about watching his then-tiny son as he laid his face down onto the grass of the Schlesinger family’s first San Antonio front yard. Nice.
A San Antonio family on opening day of the museum reach, post-game, near VFW post.
3. SOME RANDOM PHOTOS
Did you know that the front right passenger seat of every San Antonio VIA bus is dedicated to the memory of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks? Me neither, but it's true. I’ve been riding the bus lately and was very pleased to see this. The only other city with this same tribute is in Washington State, weirdly.
Tattoos on a bartender named Whiskey’s forearms at a bar called The Other Woman. Info on left arm tattoo message here.
Right arm reads (in Latin), "I shall meet death with a calm mind".
A fiver I came across recently, with ‘stache and “Morrissey eyebrows” (description copyright Linda Arredondo) inked in.
Detail. It’s a good look for Abe. I never noticed what a pretty mouth he had.
22’s in front of the Greyhound station.
school bus from Donna, TX, spotted on Broadway. Going…
Remember when it rained?