A Thematic Breakdown of this Year's Fotoseptiembre Photographers and Exhibitions

One of the most consistently excellent artistic happenings in San Antonio is the monthlong, citywide (and beyond) photography feast known as Fotoseptiembre. Now in its 22nd year, the homegrown celebration with an increasingly international reach has matured into a premiere photo festival, known for its inclusivity, its staggering breadth, and the tight sense of order that founder/director Michael Mehl (who also does the bulk of the curating) and his small team bring to bear on what could easily be described as an unwieldy undertaking.

In what has become something of a yearly tradition, we checked in with Mehl to see what’s new and what kind of mystical secret he’s hiding that keeps him dedicated to the monumental task of putting this wondrous thing together. The main change this year seems to be in the submissions department, as Fotoseptiembre has magnanimously (possibly insanely) ditched any and all fees associated with the submission process.

While committed to inclusivity, Mehl notes that the absence of a submission fee does seem to embolden those prone to flakiness, a real danger for organizers of an event like this.

As “a working artist first and foremost,” Mehl, a musician, digital artist, and photographer, sees Fotoseptiembre as part of his portfolio, his body of work, his overall artistic contribution. “It is an inherent, integral facet of my artistic expression,” Mehl said of the photo festival. “And I have been very fortunate to see how this particular expression has transcended my individuality and has become part of the fabric of our community.”

For Fotoseptiembre newbies and seasoned veterans alike, the festival website (fotoseptiembreusa.com), chock-full of listings, descriptions, web galleries, and extensive archives can feel a bit daunting to navigate. Though it’s totally worth it and we don’t want to reward anybody’s laziness, we’ve compiled a bit of a cheat sheet here to get you started.

Organized into three loose thematic categories, this (nowhere near exhaustive) list of shows you ought to catch has a little bit of something for everyone. Except where otherwise noted, all of the following exhibits are free to attend.

Documenting Our Experience
Photographers and exhibitions that are largely focused on documentary/historical work, sometimes centered around individual experience and sometimes wider in scope.

Pedro Valtierra: “Imágenes en Conflicto” This exhibit provides a striking and up-close view of warfare, via recent conflicts in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Panama and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, through the lens of internationally acclaimed photojournalist Pedro Valtierra. Through more than 100 black-and-white photos, viewers are confronted with the intimate realities of warfare. Opening reception 5-8pm Thu, Sep. 7, on view 9:30am-5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat-Sun through Oct. 22, Mexican Cultural Institute, 600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, (210) 227-0123, icm2.sre.gob.mx/culturamexsa.

Al Rendon: “San Antonio–A Photographic Portrait” In this exhibit (and accompanying book) from celebrated San Antonio photographer Al Rendon, who was interested in documenting our spaces and culture(s) since way before the Tricentennial push to do so, viewers get a look at the soul of our city through the trained perspective of one of its finest documentarians. On view by appointment through Dec. 31, Rendon Photography & Fine Art, 733 S. Alamo St., (210) 288-4900, alrendon.com.

"Street Fotos” Offering singular urban perspectives from a bevy of talented, local street photographers, this group show calls us to focus on the human element, tangled in the midst of what city planners like to call progress. On view by appointment through Sep. 30, Hausmann Millworks, 925 W. Russell Pl., (210) 884-6390, hausmannmillworks.com.

Adam Rodriguez: “9mph (Nine Miles per Hour)”As something of a travel diary in photo form, this collection of work from local photographer Adam Rodriguez documents the artist’s journey through the old American West. Photos included this solo show were taken during a three-and-a-half month transcontinental bike ride from Eureka, Montana to Rocksprings, Texas. On view noon-5pm Thu-Sat, 1-6pm Sun though Sep. 30, Ben Mata Contemporary, 502 W. Mistletoe Ave., (210) 685-4061, benmata.com.

Mark Sobhani: “Streets of San Fernando” This selection of photographs from Mark Sobhani provides an individualized historical look at the evolution of the religious and cultural hub of San Fernando Cathedral and its surroundings. On view 7am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-2pm Sun through Oct. 31, Mildfire Coffee, 15502 Huebner Road, (210) 492-9544, mildfirecoffee.com.

Laura Wilson: “That Day – Pictures in the American West”

Culture & Identity Photographers and exhibits that focus in various ways on strains of personal and/or cultural identity.

Laura Wilson: “That Day – Pictures in the American West” This exhibit by author and photographer Laura Wilson, who has dedicated much of her life’s work to the West (especially Texas), tells visual (and written) “stories of the people and places that have shaped, and continue to shape, the nation’s most dynamic and unyielding land.” As a supplement to the exhibit, check out Wilson’s talk as a part of the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Voices of The West Distinguished Lecture Series on 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19. $8-$10, on view 10am-9pm Tue, 10am-5pm Wed-Sun Sep. 15-Dec. 10, Briscoe Western Art Museum, 210 W. Market St., (210) 299-4499, briscoemuseum.org.

“Worlds Apart/Together” Comprised of work by local artists Chris Castillo, Mari Hernandez and Stephanie Torres, as well as Kentucky-based Rachael Banks, this group show curated by Julie Ledet focuses on “photography as a means to uncover their cultural senses and lived experiences, both figuratively and literally.” On view 10am-4pm Tue-Fri, 1-4pm Sat through Sep. 27, UTSA Main Art Gallery, One UTSA Circle, (210) 458-4391, art.utsa.edu.

Ramin Samandari: “Body and Mind” An accomplished San Antonio photographer, Ramin Samandari looks at the human body and consciousness, often understood to be distinct and even opposed aspects of our existence, and examines the interplay (literal and discursive) between them. In so doing, the artist is able to challenge viewers to deconstruct their own perceptions of their own bodies and the bodies of others. Opening reception 7-10pm Sat, Sep. 9, on view by appointment through Oct. 1, Dock Space Gallery, 107 Lone Star Blvd., (210) 320-0479, dockspacegallery.com.

“Somos San Antonio – This Is My San Antonio” For this homespun show, a variety of community photographers’ work will be displayed through the serene confines of King William’s Villa Finale. The pictures are largely personal works that, nevertheless, communicate shared experiences/sentiments via their settings in cherished San Antonio locales. Opening reception 6-7:30pm Thu, Sep. 7, Villa Finale Museum & Gardens, 401 King William St., (210) 223-9800, villafinale.org.

Julysa Sosa: “Trizas”Organized by Sarah Castillo’s Lady Base Gallery and curated by Rebel Mariposa of La Botánica, artist Julysa Sosa’s solo show “Trizas” takes to interpreting culture through an abstract and complex filter. The resultant work is remarkable in its ability to approach, to thought-provoking and visually-stunning effect, central themes and rituals by way of the periphery. Opening reception 7-10pm Sat, Sep. 9, on view by appointment (email [email protected]) through Sep. 28, closing reception and gallery talk 7-10pm Thu, Sep. 28, UTSA Main Art Gallery, 1906 S. Flores St., ladybasegallery.com.

“Worlds Apart/Together” Comprised of work by local artists Chris Castillo, Mari Hernandez and Stephanie Torres, as well as Kentucky-based Rachael Banks, this group show curated by Julie Ledet focuses on “photography as a means to uncover their cultural senses and lived experiences, both figuratively and literally.” On view 10am-4pm Tue-Fri, 1-4pm Sat through Sep. 27, UTSA Main Art Gallery, One UTSA Circle, (210) 458-4391, art.utsa.edu.

Windows into Alternate Worlds Photographers and exhibits that use photography to alter, escape, and re-invigorate reality.

Tomas Casademunt: “Umbrales” In this visually thrilling show from Mexico City-based photo artist Tomas Casademunt, one individual’s subconscious is laid bare in an attempt at universality, a lunge toward the collective unconscious if you will. The artist explains that for him “the most relevant threshold opens when we close our eyes and look into the unfathomable well of our being and get a glimpse of our inner light.” On view 9am-6pm Mon-Thu, 9am-2:30pm Fri through Oct. 13, UNAM San Antonio, 600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, Building 333, (210) 222-8626, unamsa.edu.

“This, That, and the Other” Promising a worthwhile excursion beyond city limits, Boerne’s “This, That, and the Other” features work by resident artists Angie Carney and Elizabeth Castle, as well as visiting artist Jeanne Shepherd Harford. As the title suggests, the eclectic group show highlights an array of styles that fall mostly within the realm of abstraction. Opening reception 4-8pm Sat, Sep. 9, on view 10am-5pm Wed-Sun through Sep. 30, Carriage House Gallery of Artists, 110 Rosewood Ave., Boerne, (830) 248-1184, carriagehousegalleryofartists.com.

“Perceptions of Time” Time is the central subject in this collaborative showcase uniting photographers Courtney Campbell, Kamille Donley, James Jackson, Martha Moreno, Patricia Morris, Antonia Padilla, Andrew Patterson and Kevin Washington. Through various subjective representations, the assembled artists explore the non-absolute nature of time by considering its relationship to perspective. Opening reception 6-9pm Sat, Sep. 9, on view by appointment through Sep. 30, Lone Star Art Space, Lone Star Art Space, 107 Lone Star Blvd., (210) 884-8100.
click to enlarge FREDDY CAMARGO: “DESMONTAR”
Freddy Camargo: “Desmontar”

Freddy Camargo: “Desmontar" With “Desmontar,” San Antonio-based multimedia photo artist Freddy Camargo challenges himself to deconstruct that which he may not readily understand. As with all forms of analysis that require disassembly, Camargo’s process yields a provocative dissociation, but also new insights into both subject and artist. Opening reception 5:30-7:30pm Wed, Sep. 6, on view noon-5pm Tue-Sat through Sep. 30, AnArte Gallery, 7959 Broadway St., Suite 404, (210) 482-0230, anartegallery09.com.

Rodolfo Choperena: “A Few of My Favorite Things” Hailing from Mexico City, but long based in the Alamo City, Rodolfo Choperena is a fine art photographer with a knack for experimenting with printing processes. Much of his work craftily employs lapsed time to create original abstractions in the form of waves, columns and striations. As such, Choperena gives visual representation to time as the prime agent of change in various forms — including creation and destruction. Opening reception 5-7pm Sat, Oct. 7, on view by appointment through Dec. 13, Musical Bridges Around the World Gallery, 23705 I-10 W., Suite 101, (210) 464-1534, musicalbridges.org.

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