Halff Collection, Vincent Valdez set for spring

Appeared in Jan. 2010 Glasstire

Childe Hassam's "Clearing Street" (1890) (Courtesy McNay Art Museum)

An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection

McNay Art Museum

Feb. 3-May 9

In the 1980s, San Antonians Marie and Hugh Halff assembled one of the finest private collections of American impressionists, dating from the 1870s to 1930. The Smithsonian Institution showcased the Halff collection to celebrate the 2007 re-opening of the American Art Museum in the restored Old Patent Office Building in Washington D.C. With key artists such as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam and Theodore Robinson, the 26 paintings span the period in American art known as “The Gilded Age” and range from the modern urbanism of Ernest Lawson’s Flatiron Building (1906-7) to the exoticism of Harry Siddons Mowbray’s Two Women (1893-96). Examining photography from the same era, the accompanying exhibit TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845-1945 is drawn from the collections of the George Eastman House and includes photographers such as Alvin Langdon Coburn, F. Holland Day, Frederick Evans, Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz.

Contemporary Art Month

San Antonio, various locations

March 2010

A 24-year-old tradition in July, Contemporary Art Month is celebrating its first quarter-century by moving to March to coincide with Luminaria , a one-night, citywide arts extravaganza founded by former Mayor Phil Hardberger. All of San Antonio’s museums and galleries participate in CAM by presenting contemporary exhibits by local, national and international artists, with the full calendar to be announced in mid-January. Luminaria brings in the performing arts with dance, theater and music on stages set up in Alamo Plaza and downtown streets, highlighted by giant projections on the sides of skyscrapers. Opening March 4, CAM’s centerpiece exhibit, “Amalgamations 25: 25 Artists for 25 Great Years,” at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center is being curated by Wayne Gilbert , a Houston artist known for using human ashes in his work.

Vincent Valdez in his studio (Courtesy Southwest School)

Vincent Valdez: Flashback

Southwest School of Art & Craft

Feb. 11-April 11

Hometown favorite who now spends much of his time in Los Angeles, Vincent Valdez returns with “Recuerdo,” a San Antonio companion to “Burn,” his recent series of paintings of nighttime LA in flames. But instead of torching the Alamo City in his new paintings and drawings, Valdez focuses more on poignant personal memories of growing up as well as politically-charged responses to the war in Iraq. Also, he’ll be making a new video commissioned by the Southwest School. Valdez has had an impressive run of shows at local museums, beginning at the McNay Art Museum with “Stations,” gritty drawings of his beat-up boxer brother in a series based on the Stations of the Cross that’s toured nationally. He teamed with mentor Alex Rubio for “Pride of the South Side” at the Museo Alameda, and last year the San Antonio Museum of Art presented his collaboration with musician Ry Cooder, a mural on a 1953 Chevy ice cream truck about the late 1950s displacement of the Chicano community known as “Chávez Ravine” by the construction of Dodgers Stadium.

Alex Gray's "Journey of the Wounded Healer" (Courtesy SAMA)

Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art since the 1960s

San Antonio Museum of Art

March 13-Aug. 1

Curator David S. Rubin plans to document what he calls one of the first significant trends of the 21st century, a “psychedelic aesthetic sensibility” characterized by “extreme color and kaleidoscopic space.” While the term “psychedelic” implies a drug connection, Rubin contends the meaning has evolved, spanning a broad variety of work influenced by pop culture artifacts such as lava lamps, light shows and posters and record album covers of the late 1960s. The show features 25 artists including Richard Anuszkiewicz , Jeremy Blake, Richie Budd, James Cobb, Alex Grey , Al Held, Mark Hogensen,  Constance Lowe, Alex Rubio, Frank Stella, Fred Tomaselli, Victor Vasarely, Michael Velliquette and Robert Williams.

Alejandro Cesarco

Artpace

Jan. 14-May 2

Text triumphs over images in the conceptual work of the 32-year-old Uruguayan artist Alejandro Cesarco, a curator and editor at New York’s Art Resources Transfer/A.R.T. Press. In his first solo museum show, Cesarco will for the first time bring together the components of “Index” (2000-2008), which he describes as the “index of a book I haven’t yet written and most probably never will.” The alphabetical list of terms and references is “a container that becomes its own content,” partly biographical and partly theoretical, but mostly personal. Artpace also commissioned a film for this exhibit, “The Two Stories,” which consists of the reading and telling of a story in overlapping narratives.

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