News and notes from the San Antonio art scene

The grounds and scupture garden of the McNay’s new exhibition wing will triangulate geographically and stylistically with Houston’s Menil and the Fort Worth Modern.
Artifacts is back, and glad to be, people. A lot’s been going on in the short span since some additional duties (happily) were shoveled into Artifacts’ Inbox, resulting in a spring-summer hiatus. It’s like a Guggenheim ghost declared a local arts-institution one-upmanship contest ’round here, what with $50-million expansions, highly pedigreed directors, and individual artist grants in the four-figure range.

But first, a fond and overdue farewell to Art Capades critic Catherine Walworth, who left the Alamo City in August for a fellowship in decorative art and design with the Cleveland Museum of Art. To fill those big and always-stylin’ shoes, I’ve cracked open my old notebook, and Current theater critic Ashley Lindstrom will be taking a swipe — just kidding, little eggshells — at the local galleries as well.

The McNay grabbed headlines last week with its announcement that the ongoing capital campaign for the Jane and Arthur Stieren Exhibition Wing will shoot for the big leagues: at $50.8 million, it’s the city’s largest capital campaign for an arts institution. With an eight-figure price tag, donors like to get a little something special, and at the September 13 site dedication Director Bill Chiego and architect Jean-Paul Viguier showed off a small working model with a custom, layered ceiling of aluminum louvers, translucent glass, and laminated silk-screen laylights. Automated roller shades will adjust the light for changing exhibitions. Viguier’s unassuming, clean geometric design reminded more than one observer of the main building at Houston’s legendary Menil Collection — one of the McNay’s inspirations for this project, said Chiego, unintentionally (???) foreshadowing the week’s next bombshell …

By Saturday, Artpace had upped the ante, confirming rumors that departed director Kathryn Kanjo will be replaced by Matthew J. W. Drutt, former chief curator of the Menil. Drutt and Artpace are wasting no time; he arrives September 25, on the heels of the San Antonio Museum of Art’s new Curator for Contemporary Art, David S. Rubin. Rubin, who comes most recently from New Orleans’ Contemporary Arts Center, took over the brand-new, Brown-Foundation-endowed position September 18.

But this isn’t only a great time for SA’s art institutions. Thanks to the efforts of Cultural Arts Board members Patricia Pratchett and Bettie Ward, on September 29 the Artist Foundation of San Antonio will announce the first recipients of its annual $5,000 individual awards. You can support the continuation of these grants by attending the foundation’s October 28 Urban Art Party (graffiti, political art, fashion, Capoeira, etc.) at Ruta Maya Riverwalk. Visit for more info.

It’s also a bit of a superstar month for artist appearances. San Francisco-based Kota Ezawa returns for “Evolution of the Music Video,” a talk that will explore the relationship of rhythm and moving images, promises Artpace, using works by Rineke Dijkstra, Walt Disney, Name June Paik, Prince, Hans Richter, and others. 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, 445 N. Main. 212-4900 or for more info.

And one of my favorite local artists and businesspersons, Rhonda Kuhlman of Recycled Works Gallery, takes over the Artpace Window Works from Ethel Shipton this week. She’ll unveil her public art, which incorporates empty glass bottles, at 445 N. Main and 306 E. Houston September 21. That’s the kind of drive-by we encourage you to take part in.


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