ArtpaceThe late Linda Pace’s “laboratory of dreams” spills youthful energy and creative vibes into the heart of downtown each October via Chalk It Up. Curated by Roberta “Nina” Hassele, the 13th annual affair is set to turn five city blocks into a street-level gallery showcasing fleeting masterpieces by featured artists Emily Fleisher, whose sculptural works are on view in Artpace’s Window Works Gallery, and John Hernandez as well as 20 emerging artists (Lili Peña Dyer, Gustavo Pimentel, Katherine Brown and Ana Hernández-Burwell, to name a few) and “Team Works” projects led by area schools, universities and nonprofits. Live music, DJs, food trucks and a photo booth sweeten the deal (free, 10am-4pm Sat, Oct. 8, downtown Houston St.). Come November, Artpace opens the latest chapter of its famed International Artist-in-Residence program (free, opening reception 6-9pm Thu, Nov. 10, on view noon-5pm Wed-Sun through Dec. 31). Promising site-specific exhibitions created by Lily Cox-Richard (Houston), Kim Faler (Williamstown, Massachusetts) and Kim Morgan (Halifax, Nova Scotia), the Fall 2016 edition of IAIR marks Artpace’s second recent collaboration with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) curator Denise Markonish, the first being the Texcentric group show “Objectives,” currently on view in the Hudson Showroom. Free, noon-5pm Wed-Sun, 445 N. Main Ave., (210) 212-4900, artpace.org.
Blue Star Contemporary
Since temporarily closing its flagship for a facelift entailing a new front staircase, large glass doors, and an extended awning and railing, Blue Star Contemporary has unveiled two exhibitions in an off-site space at 112 Blue Star (Thomas Cummins’ “Broken Lens” and Kirsten Reynolds’ “Splitsplice,” on view through Oct. 9) and partnered with Künstlerhaus Bethanien to bring Swedish artist Patrik Elgström’s photographic series “Obstacle” to Trinity, on view in the University’s Michael and Noémi Neidorff Art Gallery through October 15. Leading up to a Grand Reopening Celebration timed with the opening of four new exhibitions on November 4, BSC continues to stretch its wings this fall via Dallas-based artist Gabriel Dawe’s “Plexus c18,” a public art project to be installed in the ticketing area of Terminal A at the San Antonio International Airport (9800 Airport Blvd.). Described as “a weaving of colored thread hooked from wall to ceiling that emulates the dynamic shape of airplanes,” the installation should be intriguing travelers as soon as early October. Continuing the cross-cultural collaboration initiated with “Obstacle,” BSC and Trinity co-host Swedish artist Jenny Magnusson’s “Spill.” Challenging preconceived notions of sculpture, the exhibition spins materials on loan from Trinity into an expression of “movement and temporary transformation” (free, 1-5pm Tue-Sat Oct. 28-Dec. 10, Trinity University, Dicke Art Building, Noémi Neirdorff Art Gallery, One Trinity Pl.).
Centro Cultural Aztlán
When Centro Cultural Aztlan opened its doors back in 1977 with a mission to “support and strengthen Chicano/Latino culture and identity,” the concept of an all-inclusive Día de los Muertos celebration was somewhat new to the Alamo City. With the festive tradition and its death-mocking imagery now an integral part of our fall fabric, Aztlan boasts the “biggest and oldest Día de los Muertos celebration in San Antonio.” Promising to illustrate “the artistic, cultural and religious facets of this popular pre-Columbian/Mexican tradition,” the organization’s 39th annual “Altares y Ofrendas” exhibition comes complete with pan de muerto, ponche de frutas, an “Avenida de los Artesanos” market and a lively performance from the skeleton-faced drummers and dancers of URBAN-15’s Carnaval de los Muertos. Free, opening reception 6-9pm Wed, Nov. 2, on view 9am-5pm Mon-Fri through Nov. 9, Centro Cultural Aztlan, 1800 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 432-1896, centroaztlan.org.
Visual evidence of the high-caliber of artists coming out of the MFA program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Susan Heard’s Cinnabar in the Blue Star Arts Complex showcases recent grads Sarah Fox and Andrei Renteria in “Lost and Found.” While it may nod with its title to the duo’s shared use of found materials, the exhibition seeks to illustrate ways in which people can lose (or find) themselves though “memories, relationships or ideas.” Free, opening reception 6:30-9pm Thu, Nov. 3, on view noon-6pm Wed-Sun through Dec. 18, Cinnabar, 1420 S. Alamo St., Suite 147, (210) 557-6073, cinnabarart.com.
Justin Parr and Ed Saavedra’s beloved indie art space FL!GHT keeps things neighborly this October by hosting fellow Blue Star gallerist Amada Claire Miller’s new solo show “Motherlode.” Said to be reminiscent of the minimalist work of Ad Reinhardt and Ellsworth Kelly, the two-part exhibition blurs lines between fiber art and painting via hand-dyed and sewn canvases “informed by generations of technical knowledge traditionally developed by women.” Using scraps left behind by these large-scale pieces, Miller created “wearable paintings” that invite viewers to “transform the exhibition as they navigate the space.” Free, opening reception 6-9pm Thu, Oct. 6, on view by appointment through Oct. 30, FL!GHT, 134 Blue Star, (210) 872-2586, facebook.com/flightsa.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
Founded in 1980 with a mission to “preserve and promote the rich traditions of Latino culture,” the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center pulls out all the stops each year for Día de los Muertos. In addition to an array of altars created by local artists, students, organizations and members of the surrounding Westside community, the nonprofit celebrates the lives of our dearly departed through art-making workshops, traditional pan de muerto and performances by the Guadalupe Dance Company and Academy, Grupo Animo, the Barrio Writers Youth Writing Group and Mariachi Guadalupe. Free, opening reception 3-8pm Sun, Oct. 30, on view noon-5pm Mon-Fri through Nov. 11, Galería Guadalupe, 723 S. Brazos St., (210) 271-3151, guadalupeculturalarts.org.
McNay Art Museum
Doubling as the McNay’s signature fall 2016 exhibition and admitted “first large-scale exhibition of photography,” the decades-spanning “Telling Tales” (see Top Picks) is far from the only treat the McNay has in store this season. A personal collection that “beautifully dovetails” with the museum’s holdings, “Living and Collecting Mexico: Gifts from Susan Toomey Frost” (opens Oct. 12) comprises nearly 200 modernist prints created by the likes of Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. Encompassing arthouse faves and lesser-known gems that run the gamut from Robert J. Flaherty’s iconic 1922 documentary Nanook of the North (7pm Thu, Sept. 29) to Orson Welles’ 1942 Oscar nominee The Magnificent Ambersons (2pm Sun, Nov. 27), the museum’s Get Reel and Storyteller’s film series aim to offer cinematic complements to the narrative photographs that make up “Telling Tales.” $15-$20, 10am-4pm Tue-Wed, 10am-9pm Thu, 10am-4pm Fri, 10am-5pm Sat, noon-5pm Sun, 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.
With a pointed nod to the upcoming election, Olmos Park’s Ruiz-Healy Art unveils an exhibition gathering works by contemporary artists Margarita Cabrera, César Martínez, Fernado Andrade and Michael Menchaca. Titled “Perennial Boundaries,” the group show creatively mines “the socio-political experiences in Texas and along the U.S-Mexico Border.” Free, opening reception 6-8pm Thu, Oct. 27, artist talk 1pm Sat, Oct. 29, on view 11am-4pm Tue-Sat through Jan. 21, 2017, 201-A E. Olmos Drive, (210) 804-2219, ruizhealyart.com.
San Antonio Museum of Art
Due to a major renovation project that entails improvements to its galleries, auditorium and restaurant space (not to mention moving its central plant across Jones Avenue), the San Antonio Museum of Art won’t be mounting a major exhibition until the arrival of February 2017’s “Of Country and Culture: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art from the May and Victor Lam Collection.” In the meantime, guests can take in the possibly missed summer show “Carlos Mérida: Selections From the Permanent Collection” (highlighting works by the Guatemalan artist who rose to prominence in Mexico City and notably created a mosaic mural in San Antonio for HemisFair ’68), browse the recently reinstalled contemporary galleries or partake in a curator-led On the Cusp of Change discussion (third Friday of the month) or a brief Art to Lunch tour focusing on just two works of art (first and third Thursday of the month). $5-$10, 10am-9pm Tue, 10am-5pm Wed-Thu, 10am-9pm Fri, 10am-5pm Sat-Sun, 200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org.
Among the veteran San Antonio institutions that elevate Día de los Muertos traditions into the realm of fine art, the Southwest School of Art annually selects a local artist to create an ofrenda — a community altar often honoring (some say summoning) the dearly departed with candles, zempasuchitl (marigolds), keepsakes, beloved snacks and other personal favorites. Chosen as this year’s featured artist, multidisciplinary maven Daniela Riojas is sure to rise to the occasion. Known in increasingly equal parts for her dramatic explorations in photography, performance art and genre-fusing music (as leader of Femina-X), she’s been known to draw from “the ritual and practice of nature religions” (free, 9am-5pm Wed-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun, 9am-5pm Mon-Tue Nov. 2-8). Deeper into November, the school turns its galleries over to a wide range of accomplished fiber artists and “pulparazzi” in conjunction with the annual McMahon Fiber Arts Symposium and the retirement of longtime paper-making and book arts department chair Beck Whitehead and (free, opening reception 5:30-7:30pm Thu, Nov. 17, on view 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun through January 15, 2017). Free, 300 Augusta St. & 1201 Navarro St., (210) 224-1848, swschool.org.