SAMA’s “Waterflow” heralds Museum Reach

Water is life. Without the vast underground reservoir known as the Edwards Aquifer, which feeds and sustains the San Antonio River, this city of 1.3 million probably would be empty desert. In conjunction with the opening of the Museum Reach, curator David Rubin of the San Antonio Museum of Art has gathered 15 local artists who contemplate the importance of the liquid combination of hydrogen and oxygen in “Waterflow.”

Though somewhat jammed in the small Focus Gallery, with competing soundtracks for videos alongside more traditional paintings, “Waterflow” is a peaceful, easy kind of show, enhanced by bird calls and the rippling, gurgling sounds of running water. Several of these pieces have been exhibited before, but the elusive, transparent nature of water, which is never quite the same twice, is the source not only of nourishment, but also rich visual metaphors concerning the transience of life.

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Pace Foundation plans for new San Antonio museum designed by British architect David Adjaye

Famed British architect David Adjaye’s preliminary design for the collection of the late San Antonio art patron Linda Pace features cantilevered skylights above four spacious galleries. To be located on Camp Street in a spot currently occupied by an old warehouse, the building will be clad in red, the signature color for Pace, who once dreamed of an idyllic “ruby city” and named the book about her creation of Artpace’s internationally-respected artists’ residency program “Dreaming Red.”

But what promises to be one of San Antonio’s most architecturally significant buildings is now in “pause mode,” said Rick Moore, director of the Linda Pace Foundation. The economic meltdown has caused the foundation’s assets (which peaked at an estimated $75 million) to decline by a third, he said, putting the plans for the collection on hold, although he said that the foundation’s annual $1 million support of Artpace’s operating budget is assured.

“We’re waiting for the market to rebound,” Moore said. “The building is still a high priority, but, like everyone else, we’re waiting to see what happens next to the stock market. However, we’re pleased to say it hasn’t impacted our support for Artpace. We’re determined to carry out Linda’s plans for her collection and Artpace.”

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A river runs through San Antonio

Appeared in the April 2009 issue of AmericanStyle

San Antonio artist Stuart Allen's colored mesh panels are part of the new Museum Reach on the San Antonio River.

A river runs through San Antonio, linking the past and future of the sprawling city of 1.4 million. Canary Islands settlers arrived in 1731 to claim the region for the Spanish crown. A string of five missions grew along the river – including one famous for the battle of the Alamo fought in 1836.

In the 1930s, visionary architect Robert Harvey Harold Hugman created the River Walk, featuring winding walkways, lush landscaping and picturesque arched bridges along the cypress-lined San Antonio River downtown. It languished until the city hosted one of the last great world fairs, HemisFair ’68, which established San Antonio as a major tourist and convention destination.

Today, the Alamo and the River Walk rank as Texas’ most popular tourist attractions. While San Antonio has a reputation as a romantic getaway with mariachis and river barge rides, there’s also a thriving art scene with expanding museums, dozens of galleries and a large, supportive community of artists.

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Kelley Collection charts 150 years of African American history at McNay Art Museum

Portrait of printmaker Robert H. Blackburn by Ron Adams (Courtesy McNay Art Museum)

Portrait of printmaker Robert H. Blackburn by Ron Adams (Courtesy McNay Art Museum)

You can trace 130 years of African American art history through the nearly 100 works on paper – prints, drawings and watercolors – from the collection of San Antonians Harmon and Harriet Kelley on view at the McNay Art Museum through Jan. 3.
On a national tour that began during the summer at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, this is the largest and most comprehensive exhibit ever assembled of works on paper by African American artists, revealing a remarkable yet until recently mostly overlooked current of American art history.
The earliest work in the show, an 1878 hand-colored lithograph by Grafton Tyler Brown, thought to be the first professional graphic artist on the West Coast, presents a view of the sprawling “Willow Glen Ranchero” in California’s San Mateo County. With a stagecoach in the foreground, manicured trees and mountain in the background, it looks like a Currier & Ives print.
Perhaps the most important early black artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner, is represented by an entire wall of prints of religious subjects and images drawn from his exotic travels, such as the large pastel, “The Visitor” (1910), with a man wearing a turban in a temple out of the Arabian Nights. Tanner set an example for the black artists who followed by becoming an expatriate, spending most of his career in Paris, where it was easier to be both an artist and a black man.

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