Art Events starting Apr. 27 in San Antonio

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“America on Stage”

Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays, 12-5 p.m. Continues through June 30
McNay Art Museum 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., San Antonio San Antonio


Arguably one of the most overlooked aspects of the McNay is the the museum’s impressive Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, which boasts more than 12,00o objects spanning from the 1500s to the present day. Built around a sprawling gift from late collector, philanthropist, theater patron and design enthusiast Robert L.B. Tobin and expanded by curators Linda Hardberger and Jody Blake, the collection encompasses rare books, small-scale models, costume illustrations and stage designs created by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Organized by Head of Curatorial Affairs René Paul Barilleaux and Curatorial Assistant Timothy Retzloff, the recently opened exhibition “America on Stage” aims to celebrate “the vision of the nation’s 20th- and 21st-century master designers on stages across the U.S. and around the world.” Exploring four key themes — Broadway, Nostalgia, Breaking Tradition, and Social Justice — the show combines maquettes from productions of Cabaret, In the Heights, West Side Story and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; a pop-up theater where guests can view scenes from a conceptual revival of Spring Awakening; and interactive areas that invite museum-goers to “take center stage in a recreated stage set — and even tap dance.” (210) 824-5368

"Transcendental Tricentennial: Love Letters to San Anto, the (he)Art of David Zamora Casas"

Mondays-Saturdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays, 12-5 p.m. Continues through July 28
Institute of Texan Cultures 801 E César Chávez Blvd, San Antonio San Antonio

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Over the last four decades, self-described “artivist” David Zamora Casas has delighted, shocked and intrigued San Antonio audiences with paintings, installations, altars and performance works that essentially present the artist himself as a canvas. Fusing elements of folk and outsider art with nods to the aesthetics of Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí, the DIY spirit of rasquachismo, religious iconography and Latinx and LGBTQ* activism, Casas has established something many artists strive for fruitlessly: an instantly recognizable aesthetic that’s distinctly their own. Nicknamed Nuclear Meltdown and dubbed a “clown shaman” by esteemed author and MacArthur Genius Sandra Cisneros, Casas often makes cameos in his own paintings, his fire-engine red lips, devilish goatee and Dalí-esque mustache emerging from surreal tableaus populated by skulls, deities, monkeys and mermaids swimming amid swirling patterns, Mesoamerican symbols and hand-painted text reminiscent of retablos. In the words of Chicano art specialist Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, Casas’ canvases “mix word and image to visualize autobiographical and universal stories  of homoerotic love, loss and persistent social concerns including immigration, environmental plunder, gender disparity and the multiple issues facing marginalized individuals and communities.” Billed as an artistic explosion of “folk-baroque manifestations” exploring themes ranging from indigenous history to gender fluidity, Casas’ new solo show “Transcendental Tricentennial” comprises “miles of ribbon, yards of fabric, embellished prints, various on-site assemblages, oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, barbed-wire and bone sculptures, and a Día de los Muertos ofrenda which spills into our collective consciousness.” Made possible by a grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), the “mega-installation” also involves creative collaborations with the likes of accordion queen Eva Ybarra and video/film producers Laura Varela and Fadela Gacis Castro. As for its slightly unexpected landing at the Institute of Texan Cultures, Casas reminds that the exhibition evokes the ITC’s mission to be “a lesson in diversity [that] shows the uniqueness and beauty of the many cultures that came to Texas.” (210) 458-2300

Looking for Langston

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11

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Although his resume includes writing and directing credits for the award-winning coming-of-age drama Young Soul Rebels (1991) and the blaxploitation documentary BaadAsssss Cinema (2002), British filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien is arguably better known for conceptual films presented on multiple screens simultaneously. Seemingly dissected and left for viewers to reassemble with their own eyes, these immersive projects have involved journeys to remote ice caves in Iceland, juxtapositions of Arctic and African landscapes, travels through China and curious collaborations with the likes of Tilda Swinton and James Franco. A co-founder of the Sankofa Film and Video Collective (an organization “dedicated to developing an independent black film culture in the areas of production, exhibition and audience”), Julien made one of his earliest waves with Looking for Langston — a 1989 film billed as “a lyrical exploration — and recreation — of the private world of poet, social activist, novelist, playwright and columnist Langston Hughes (1902-1967) and his fellow black artists and writers who formed the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s.” In essence a non-linear homage that presents Hughes as a metaphor for the black gay experience, the film has earned cult status and is taught extensively in universities as part of African-American and queer studies programs. Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017, Julien was a favorite of late local artist and philanthropist Linda Pace, who acquired more than 50 of his works during her lifetime. In celebration of Looking for Langston’s 30th anniversary, the Linda Pace Foundation’s gallery Studio at Ruby City showcases the 45-minute film as the anchor of a new exhibition of two recently acquired photographs Julien shot during production — Film-Noir Angels and Masquerade No. 3.

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