Cam Showdowns

Contemporary Art Month went out like the many-headed Cerberus last weekend, a fearsome clutch of events through which the faithful persevered, heat be damned, to pass wearily into the small gap between CAM and Fotoseptiembre. Despite Dignowity Park’s westward tilt — playing anvil to the setting sun’s hammer — a rowdy crowd turned out Saturday evening for the Second Annual Dignowity Hill Pushcart Derby. Roughly a dozen cars were fielded by artist-led teams, some elaborate, like the two-part sled put forth by Too Much Pork For Just One Fork, featuring a papier-mache pig that lifted off to reveal an aerodynamic racing machine faced in Ethel Shipton’s red-and-white padded-vinyl stripes; and some simple, like the plastic tub atop a lawnmower base, piloted by a very young girl. The latter dumped its occupant in the final race, causing alarm and tears, and raising the question whether there ought to be some standards for child drivers.

The victorious team El 'lil General, with driver Ed Saavedra at the helm.

The Art Movers’ concept buggy — a San Antonio Museum of Art exhibition crate piloted by art critic Catherine Walworth and powered by Barry Austin and Tyler Lewis, was a hot contender, as were last year’s champions, headed by Derby founder Cruz Ortiz. But in the end, El ’Lil General’s team, captained by One9Zero6 Gallery Director Andy Benavides, triumphed. The cook-off between Chuck Ramirez’s pork tacos and Niles Chumney’s tandoori chicken resulted in a delicious draw. Souvenir of the day: Push it Real Good silk-screened Tshirt by Ortiz.

Sunset was the right time Sunday evening for a heartfelt tribute to HapVeltman and Bernard Lifshutz, who were honored with street signs and a plaque at the Blue Star Arts Complex they founded a little more than 20 years ago. Organizer Mister Danny Geisler declined to take the stage, leaving those duties to Blue Star Contemporary Art Center Director Bill FitzGibbons (who thanked developer James Lifshutz for continuing in his father’s philanthropic footprints, perhaps with a mental “I hope” attached), Lifshutz (who couldn’t resist tying the controversial Big Tex development that abuts Blue Star to his father’s legacy), Blue Star boardmember and patron Mike Casey (who pointedly remarked that the future of Blue Star Contemporary Art Center should be at the Blue Star Arts Complex, perhaps nipping a rumored move to Pearl Brewery in the bud), and former councilwoman Maria Berriozabal, who waxed nostalgic about Hap but not so much about Bernard (disappointing for one observer who hoped to hear the anti-development activist say something positive about one of the original Stone Oak developers). But there was little time to dwell on any real or imagined subtexts, because the First- Annual Green Eggs and CAM Awards started at 8 p.m. at the Cameo Theatre.

Organizers Laura Robles and UTSA New Media prof Leslie Raymond asked 16- plus entities and individuals to come up with awards based on their own criteria. Winners received a giant orange certificate designed by Chuck Ramirez and a small copper frying pan with a CAM logo designed by CAM organizers Robert Tatum and Anjali Gupta.

Returning champions Team Calypso, at the starting line for the time trials.

Bill FitzGibbons gave the Bernard, named for the aforementioned Lifshutz, to Chris Sauter, whose Pioneer Flour Millinspired one-man show is on view at Finesilver Gallery. Representing the art patrons, Mike Casey gave the DreamArt Award — named by Linda Pace — to Henry Rayburn, who, among other activities this CAM, included Pace in the show he curated at the Alameda. The critics, including yours truly, Catherine Walworth, the Express-News’ Dan Goddard, and Michelle “Bunnyphonic” Valdez, gave The Hickey (named for art critic Dave Hickey) Award for Bravery to Mister Danny Geisler for his Blue Star dumpster flowers. (Geisler is also part of the Current-sponsored twoman show with Franco Mondini-Ruiz at UTSA, but that was ineligible, as was any show in which the critics were involved.) The Double Hickey for Excellence went to Judith Cottrell for Pink Lemonade, and to Mimi Kato for her one-woman show at Joan Grona Gallery.

Bringing it all full circle, ArtPace bestowed the Why Didn’t We Think of That? (Genius) Award on the Pushcart Derby (in which Theo Jurist, son of soonto- depart ArtPace Director Kathryn Kanjo, was a child driver). Does it all sound a little insider-baseball-y? I can’t deny it, but in San Antonio, the teams are always looking for new players, so put a big fat parenthesis around July 2007 and plan to be in town for the fun (keep abreast of developments, registration dates, etc. at

But to whom will Artpace give next year’s award (it not being tailored for repeaters), inquired one audience member? Perhaps they’ll grant genius status to the Green Eggs and CAM Awards themselves, which proved a fitting close to an excellent and exhausting month.


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