OUR PICK: Amy Stone, twitter.com/amylstone1
For Trinity sociology and anthropology associate professor Amy Stone, her research on our favorite LGBTQ+ Fiesta tradition, Cornyation, was a labor of love. Stone writes about LGBTQ+ visibility in civic life, from festivals like Mardi Gras to issues at the ballot box. For her new book, Cornyation: San Antonio’s Outrageous Fiesta Tradition, she painstakingly searched city archives and The Playhouse’s storage closet, tracked down Cornyation participants for interviews and participated as a stage hand and duchess. From 1951’s “Court of the Cracked Salad Bowl” to 1987’s “Court of Broadway Musicals That Never Were” and 1999’s “Court of Everyday Soap Operas,” Stone traces the “duchesses in costumes, witty satire, dancing queens, entertainment, audience hijinks, hot glue burns, and biting humor” of the inimitable San Antonio event that raises funds for theater-arts scholarships and HIV/AIDS organizations, comments on the status quo, and helped make Fiesta the inclusive party it is today.
OUR PICK: Ana Fernandez, anafernandez.com
Since the term “artist” encompasses a wide array of disciplines, trying to decide who’s “best” feels futile and unfair (like comparing a glassblower to a performance artist). But what about who creates art that best captures San Antonio? A solid answer to that question is Ana Fernandez — a Corpus Christi native who moved here during high school, earned degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles, and officially adopted San Antonio as her hometown in 2009. A local favorite and double threat, Fernandez has won over diehard fans with both the creatively concocted raspas she sells out of her Chamoy City Limits food truck and her moody, slightly mysterious paintings depicting old-school San Antonio homes, storefronts, street scenes and parking lots. With a sold-out 2016 exhibition and a CAMMIE Award already under her belt, Fernandez wowed us (and others) with her recent Contemporary Art Month exhibition “Magic Time Machine” and has plenty more on the horizon, including a September exhibition at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
Things are only looking up for chef Jason Dady, owner of six restaurants with more on the way. Even as the face of the Jason Dady Restaurant Group, and “menu writer” for Tre Enoteca, Tre Trattoria, Two Bros. BBQ Market, DUK Truck, Shuck Shack and The Bin, Dady spends a lot of time on the road, spreading the gospel of San Antonio’s culinary growth. He’s participating in the Austin Food + Wine Festival, and Austin’s Hot Luck (a three-day food and music festival) – oh, and he’s participating in this year’s Iron Chef Gauntlet reboot on the Food Network. Dady grooms young talent, encourages competition and serves as one of San Antonio’s biggest advocates around, and that makes him this year’s best chef.
Our Pick: Graciela Sanchez, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, 922 San Pedro, esperanzacenter.org
Graciela Sanchez embodies the definition of what it means to be a social justice warrior. A firm believer in addressing social issues through art and community, the executive director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center has spent her entire life fighting for the equal treatment of the LGBTQ community, people of color, women and working class people — and she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Through community programming, art initiatives like MujerArtes, and, most recently, the buying of city real estate as a form of protest and community protection, the Esperanza Center, under Sanchez’s direction, has become not only a voice for the community but also a place where people find their own voice to speak up and out against social injustice.
OUR PICK: Laurie Ann Guerrero
Former poet laureate of San Antonio and current poet laureate of Texas, Laurie Ann Guerrero easily has the fancy accolades to earn the distinction of San Anto’s best poet. But our designation here is more about personal and poetic potency than posts or positions. Guerrero, a graduate of McCollum High School on San Antonio’s Southside, is a fiercely proud mother of three, an educator, and an advocate for community literacy and arts education. Her poetry, while steeped in a thorough understanding of structure that she achieved while earning her MFA in Poetry from Drew University, sings and stings with an organic electricity. She has served as Literary Arts Director at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, where she continues to work closely with the Macondo Writers’ Workshop that was founded by Sandra Cisneros. While SA poet laureate, Guerrero spearheaded a successful effort to establish the San Antonio Poetry Archive at the library of Palo Alto College. Busy as she is, you can still catch her reading about town on occasion, and we’d highly recommend it. While Guerrero, who is not even 40 years old yet, only has two books of poetry out so far, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying and A Crown for Gumecindo, each of these award-winning collections argues persuasively for Guerrero’s genius.