On the Street

Picking Up the Pace

Last Thursday Artpace unveiled new works from its 3 artists in residence - Chris Evans, Matthew Buckingham, and Alex Rubio.  

Evans was the international artist coming from England/Germany; Buckingham was the U.S. artist from New York City, and Rubio was the Texas artist, though in his particular case he was already here.

From L to R: Matthew Drutt (Executive Director), Chris Evans, Alex Rubio, Matthew Buckingham, and Alex Farquharson (Curator)

The discussion with the artists was quite good I thought.  Though at times I feel like work should not need to be explained to be appreciated, in this case, hearing the backstory on how each artist came to find their inspiration was informative, humorous, lively, and engaging.  Moments like this, in my opinion, stand out from the routine of shuffling through local art galleries.

Farquharson spoke well.  At one point someone behind me questioned him on a comment he made in how he couldn't compare Rubio's work to the other two artists.   The question created a small quiet moment and seemed to take Farquharson off guard, but he responded that he couldn't compare any of the three artists. The question suggested bad intent but I didn't sense that to be actually true.  If anything Farquharson seemed to have much respect for all the artists.  Unlike discussions like this in the past, everyone got to speak and express their viewpoints.

Though I got there early enough to get a good seat, I didn't predict the camera crew would be setting up right in front of me.  

At a lull in the action I noticed this on the wall.  There was a lot of dirigible themed art on the walls but I was focusing on the new work and didn't get the full skinny.  But was this one of the dirigibles?

After the discussion the crowd went various directions: to each of the three artists work, and also the free booze.  On the way downstairs I noticed a bunch of bikes parked against this wall.  Though fairly inconspicuous, the presence of the bikes expanded the dynamic slightly.

(Speaking of bikes, when riding downtown on Friday night I came across the most amazing cyclist I've seen yet in San Antonio.  Some guy was riding by sitting on his handlebars while facing the other way.  While drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.  In other words, he was riding forward but facing the wrong way.  I'm not sure how he knew how to navigate.  Add this to the fact that he was holding a beer and smoking a cigarette while sitting on the handlebars.  The moment was surreal.  I asked a few other cyclists about this guy and they had seen him as well.  Evidently watching him ride through the drive through at Jack n the Box is just as entertaining.  More on him later, if possible...)

Buckingham's work might have been the most enigmatic and intellectual, I think.  Though I was only in the room for about 5 minutes, the video projection seemed to contain itself to this action of writing.  Other works included metal encased time capsules set to be open in the distant future, as in 1000 years from now. The dates for the opening indirectly hint at the objects contained inside the capsule but I had no legitimate guesses.  No mention was made of what is actually inside.  

Evans' show was based around his video project entitled The Fantasist.  Though he went in to great detail describing its futuristic science fiction elements, all I can remember is the joy he had in describing it.  The facts of the story now allude me.  Had I grabbed a copy of his treatment perhaps I would remembered.  I had thought that these copies were for display but several people in the crowd grabbed a copy for themselves.

Here, the video for The Fantasist is about to begin...

This photo from Evans' show accompanies a letter written to the CEO of a local drug company.  Based on my 'expert' knowledge of San Antonio, I'm going to guess that the building in the background is the AT&T building behind him to the West.  The letter was humorous and recalled other notorious epistles.

Evans mentioned in the discussion his anxiety in trying to find a way to draw inspiration from San Antonio for his work. With  many of the ideas and places having already been 'taken' by past residents, the challenge seemed greater.  And this raised an interesting point.  Though international residents might seem to be the most established and successful of the three residents, in fact they are the most out of their element, and as Evans confessed, the process of finding a connection with the city to inspire their work can feel daunting.

Contrast this with Rubio's work.  Being at home he was able to pull from his own base of support and create a show that was immense in its magnitude and stunning in its visualization.  

The room was covered with moments such as this.  The overall lighting was kept dark with pockets of neon.  Overall, it felt something like a Tim Burton dream set in its fantastical elements but completely San Antonio in its inspiration and focus.

This gargantuan shopping cart was the centerpiece of the room.  

The last local artist I recall being a resident was Katie Pell, and she too "filled the room."  Perhaps there's something to this...

Those thoughts and others followed me to the roof terrace where discussions ranged from what was opening for the Second Saturday to stuff...

American Gangster

On Sunday I found time for another matinee.  American Gangster is the film with Denzel Washington about  an African American from Harlem who took on the Italian mafia and created his own heroin empire by working directly with his own "Vietnam Connection" for getting the drugs into the states.  

The film was directed by Ridley Scott.  After the embarrassing Oscar for his Gladiator its difficult to see one of his films as one of "his films."  Now, it seems like just another film.  Of course he's still much better than his clownish brother Tony Scott who uses cinematic style as a crutch to hide his obvious lack of storytelling skills.  At first he just made popular Tom Cruise vehicles wherein Tom's characters were always brazenly fighting to get out of the shadow of their more successful and stern fathers (Top Gun, Days of Thunder...though Tom continued this trend with films without Tony...Cocktail, A Few Good Men, Magnolia?!)

American Gangster was good because of its performances by Russel Crowe, Denzel, and countless goombahs.  Of course it was a classic case of schizophrenic Hollywood moralizing where Denzel is introduced as someone who sets people on fire (first shot in the film) to someone who got a bad break from the real bad guys - bad cops!

I don't know, I suppose I prefer my anti-villains to not have to actually be heroes in the end.  The film is long at over 2.5 hours.  But overall no regrets in seeing it.


Ginobili has been the true star of the team so far.  Though some have argued that he's been overlooked on his own team, some have called for him to be front runner for both 6th Man and MVP.  Me, I'm still intrigued by Argentinians love for long, gladiator-esque hair.  Maybe its a soccer thing.

Tonight and Friday will be interesting games as they play both Dallas and Houston.  I briefly saw Houston lose to the Lakers last night.  Games like this tear at one's internal compass.  Somehow both teams should lose, yet I found myself hoping the Lakers would win.  Seeing Derek Fisher brings back this awful moment which erased a possible incredible moment...

I suppose its my grand attraction to tragedy that would make me relive that moment. Those thoughts and others to follow next week...

And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio.  As always, to be continued...

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