Arts Lame is as lame does

Flight Gallery's CAM retrospective proves that its catchy logo is a recipe for success

Samuel Butler may have felt that "neither irony nor sarcasm is argument," but local artist Aaron Forland disagrees. The mind behind "Keep San Antonio Lame," the slogan that graces T-shirts and stickers and has been spotted as far away as Los Angeles, sees his four-word response to the ever-present lament that San Antonio has no "scene" as a combination of both, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The Flight Gallery. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

The concept grew from a conversation about the "Keep Austin Weird" phenomenon, which also evolved from a single mind, that of Austin Community College librarian Red Wassenich. "I don't think Austin is very weird, and I don't think San Antonio is very lame," says Forland. The slogan is not necessarily a rejoinder to the effort to save local business in Austin, which he supports, but rather an attempt to draw attention to the talented, creative individuals who populate San Antonio's cultural beat, and the venues that support them. The message: If this is lame, it's lameness worth celebrating.

This is where you belong,
I'm going to get mine someday

5-11pm Thu, Jul 7
Flight Gallery
401 Blue Star, Silo 18

One local venue that's proud of its "lameness" is the Flight Gallery, located in Silo 18 at the Blue Star Arts Complex. A collective of local artists including Forland, Sean vonMarveldt, Ryan Parker, Chris Tracy, Justin Parr, and others, Flight propagated the "Lame" logo, the "Turn It Off!" anti-TV campaign, and several anti-Bush designs with T-shirts and stickers available at its First Friday shows. But facilitating alternative viewpoints is only one aspect of Flight's operation, which touches on everything from clothing to photography to music to performance art.

"People keep telling me we have some sort of theme, but I couldn't tell you what it is," says Parr, owner of the gallery and de facto head of the collective. If there is a connecting thread to all of Flight's activities, it is unpredictability with a focus on local or Texas-based art for an all-ages crowd that usually numbers four to five hundred. The recent "Found Art of Doug Manion" show, live ice-sculpting accompanied by DJs, and a graffiti-art raffle are a few examples of the typical First Friday antics at Flight that are anything but.

A small crowd gathers to check out the art and peruse the wares during First Friday.

But no previous Flight show matches the the ambition of the gallery's CAM exhibition, This is where you belong, I'm going to get mine someday, which Parr describes as "our Best of San Antonio." The 22-artist show features Flight Gallery regulars Parr, Forland, vonMarveldt, Parker, Tracy, and Ed Saavedra and nearly every other artist Flight has exhibited in its three-year tenure. The pieces include Derek Allen Brown's Duchamp-inspired sculpture "Helmet Don't Work," Chris Tracy's wood engravings, and photography, painting, and anything else that falls under the Flight pattern.

This is where you belong, I'm going to get mine someday is a "best of" as Parr promised, but it's also more than an overview of Flight's past. Standing in the middle of the tall silo, taking in the disparate work hung all around (while also marveling at how art can be hung on metal walls), I began to feel as if I was peeking under a sheet into the future. Each of the pieces, two from every represented artist, is proof not only of what he or she is capable of now, but also of the capacity for even grander things to come - collective fighting words for anyone invoking San Antonio's gift for lameness.

By Aaron Block

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