Free Things to Do: Culture 

click to enlarge JEREMIAH TEUTSCH
  • Jeremiah Teutsch

Too hot to play outside but too early to hit up no-cover night at the club? Try any of these cultural excursions to boost your brain on the cheap.

Gruene Hall Free Shows
Head up to Gruene for some Hill Country scenery and live music. Upcoming free shows will feature Americana tunes from Poor J. Brown, Cajun/folk from Slim Bawb in addition to the regular Friday Afternoon Club show, a Gruene Hall tradition. This Friday, listen to some tunes from Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist (of Band of Heathens) from Austin. Grab a brew and get ready for a good time. Friday Afternoon Club, 4-7pm Fri, Gruene Hall, 1281 Gruene (New Braunfels), (830) 606-1281, gruenehall.com.

McNay Second Thursdays
Bring a blanket and some friends to McNay Second Thursday for a night of art, music, food and drinks. Unwind on the museum grounds and enjoy docent-led tours of the art collections at 6 and 8 p.m. The next Second Thursday is not until June, so mark your calendars now. There will be live music from Pop Pistol, beer courtesy of Crispin Ciders and food for purchase from some of San Antonio’s best food trucks. 6-9pm every second Thu, McNay Museum, 6000 N New Braunfels, (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.

Witte Museum Free Tuesdays
Stop by the Witte Museum on Tuesdays for free admission. You can view the newest exhibit, “Alien Worlds and Androids,” until May 27 or spend time with the Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex on display as part of the long-term exhibit, “Dinosaurs: Vanished Texans.” On May 24, the H-E-B Body Adventure will open. Guests can check out four floors of activities centered on health and wellness, including a virtual cycling tour through the San Antonio River landscape. 3-8pm every Tue, Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, (210) 357-1900, wittemuseum.org.

McNay Free Admission Days
The McNay Art Museum opens its doors on H-E-B Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m. and AT&T First Sundays, offering free admission to guests to the Main Collection Galleries. For $5 you can access special exhibits like the current Robert Indiana blockbuster “Beyond Love” and upcoming “Matisse and Picasso: A friendly rivalry.” 4-9pm Thu; noon-5pm Sun, McNay Museum, 6000 N New Braunfels, (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.

Artpace
Check out Artpace’s newest exhibition, “The Strangest Fruit” by Vincent Valdez, and stop by for lunch during Taco Fridays. After you scarf your fare purchased from El Tacomiendo (try the Torta Tacomiendo), stick around for brief guided tours or explore on your own. Admission to Artpace and to Taco Fridays is free. Noon-5pm Wed-Sun; Taco Fridays: 11am-2pm Fri, Artpace, 445 N Main, (210) 212- 4990, artpace.org.

Author Appearances at the Twig
Check out the online event calendar and stop by The Twig Bookshop for free readings and signings by various local and visiting authors. This week, for instance, Current op-ed contributor Frederick Williams will present his novel Fires of Greenwood: The Tulsa Riot of 1921, on Friday and Saturday. Next week, Chef Ross Burtwell of Texas Cabernet Grill will stop by during farmers’ market hours to hawk his cookbook Texas Hill Country Cuisine with a food tasting. The Twig, 306 Pearl Pkwy, Ste 106, (210) 826-6411, thetwig.indiebound.com.

Memorial Day and Fourth of July Arts & Crafts Show
Vendors will bring their crafts and talents to the River Walk for Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends. While the wares cost money, browsing the displayed jewelry, pottery and other fine arts and crafts is free. Similar fairs will be held over Labor Day and during the fall and holiday season. 11am-8pm Fri-Mon, May 23-26 and Thu-Sun July 3-6, San Antonio River Walk, (210) 227-4262, thesanantonioriverwalk.com.

BiblioTech Library
BiblioTech is an all-digital library, meaning there are no actual hard copies of books in the building. This is still a library though, and it promotes literacy through new technology. BiblioTech offers eBooks, comics and graphic novels, magazines, audiobooks, movies and music, language learning, access to databases and technology tutorials. Tech tutorials are offered for beginners (1 p.m.), Spanish speakers (2 p.m.) and seniors (3 p.m.) every Saturday. BiblioTech also offers information sessions about the library every Monday. BiblioTech Basics Class, 1pm every Mon; Tech tutorials, 1-3pm every Sat, BiblioTech Library, 3505 Pleasanton, (210) 631-0180, bexarbibliotech.org.

Lifelong Learning
In addition to books, the San Antonio Public Library offers a healthy dose of free programming and special events. The Lifelong Learning series, geared toward adults, presents lectures, discussions and panels on a host of issues ranging from the newly published Lake|Flato Houses: Embracing the Landscape (June 10) to Greek art appreciation (July 17). The library also organizes free programming around specific themes like May’s Asian/Pacific American Heritage. One such event on Saturday, May 24, will feature the classic Indian dance Bharatnatyam, which began in southern India in the temples of Tamil Nadu. Mysapl.org.

Memorial Day Celebration
Market Square hosts a free, three-day celebration for Memorial Day. The square will be filled with music, arts and crafts, and an array of food booths. The United States Air Force Bands, The Stan Wayne Band, Erica Gonzaba and more will perform live. Noon-8pm Sat-Sun; noon-6pm Mon, Market Square, 514 W Commerce, (210) 207-8600, sanantonio.gov.

San Antonio Summer Art & Jazz Festival
This year’s festival will feature music from “The Gentlemen of Jazz” with live performances from Jeff Kashiwa, Blake Aaron, Ken Slavin and Stan Killian. This free, three-day event kicks off with local, regional and nationally known jazz artists as well as an arts and crafts fair and the first annual San Antonio Summer Art & Jazz Festival Fajita Cook-Off Competition. 6-10pm Fri, May 30; noon-10pm Sat-Sun, May 31-June 1, Crockett Park, 1300 N Main at Cypress, (210) 772-2900, facebook.com/SASJAZZFEST.

SAMA Gallery Talks and Museum Lectures
The San Antonio Museum of Art regularly hosts gallery talks and special lectures. Bonus points: Many of them are held during SAMA’s free admission times (4 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays). Too fidgety for lectures? Check out Sketching in the Galleries classes on Tuesdays, in which participants get laid-back drawing instruction for works based on those found at SAMA. San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W Jones, (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org.

Flatland
The new exhibition “Flatland” will open at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s Museo Guadalupe in July. The exhibition centers on the idea that the world is becoming more flat due to “globalization, transcultural movement and the leveling of world commerce.” The artists of “Flatland” further this idea by exploring ethnicity and culture in their work. Admission to the Museo Guadalupe is always free. Opening reception: 6-9pm Fri, July 11; regular hours: noon-5pm Tue-Sat, Museo Guadalupe, 723 S Brazos, (210) 271-3151, guadalupeculturalarts.org.

Percussion and Latin Dance Classes
Urban-15 offers HOT HOT HOT Latin dance classes (seriously, that’s the name of the course) and DRUM DRUM DRUM percussion classes for seniors, as well as a samba reggae dance course and drumming crew class for kids ages 8-13. All you have to do is show up to class 15 minutes early to fill out a registration form and you are good to go! Urban-15, 2500 S Presa, (210) 736-1500, urban15.org. –Ainsley Caffrey

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