News and notes from the San Antonio art scene

The little economic engine that could

Southtown, the historic neighborhood south of the Alamo bounded roughly by Durango, South St. Mary's/South Presa, Flores, and Probandt, has earned a garland this holiday season. The Texas Downtown Association has named its 13-year-old community fundraiser Art in the Hood the Best Downtown Promotional Event in the state. Celebrated during July's Contemporary Art Month, AIH sponsors a range of cultural activities from an art auction to Family Day to a fashion show featuring local designers.

Twenty years of rehabilitation and investment initiatives, led by the late Hap Veltmann and Bernard Lifshutz - critical to the founding of Blue Star Arts Complex - and visionary residents such as attorney Mike Casey and Walter Mathis, have created a charming, quirky, pedestrian friendly clutch of shops, restaurants, and galleries that ought to be a regular leisure destination for area residents `i.e. see "Reinvintage is the word," November 24-December 1, 2004` even when it's not First Friday. All paths lead to elegantly restored Victorians, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince's formerly purple house (oh, wait, that was Sandra Cisneros'), and the chain store-free part of the river. Come on down!!

Less of a surpise is Southtown's almost simultaneous designation as the Mayor's Best NCR Overall (NCR standing for Neighborhood Commercialization Revitalization Project). Among the city's eight ongoing projects, Southtown had a head start on a factor some observers consider to be crucial: bottom-up, organic initiative. But the jury's still out on whether the Deco District can successfully follow the Field of Dreams mantra. Southtown also took home honors for most volunteers and best implementation to date of the Operation Facelift Grant Project. For more information, visit Volunteers are always welcome for Art in the Hood (planning will begin in the next two-three months) and other events. Call the Southtown offices at 226-0888.

Say it again: 10!!

Texas' quarterly journal of visual culture, ArtL¡es, has been celebrating its 10th birthday for almost a year, but it's worked hard to get there and Texas is a big state, damn it. If you missed the party at Finesilver last June, gas up the car and head for Houston Saturday, December 4 for a gala benefit and the inauguration of ArtL¡es' new critics' lecture series featuring the Lone Star State's own Dave Hickey `see "Hickey on Vegas," November 18-23, 2004` at the bargain basement price of $5. The journal is now offering a $35 annual membership which includes home delivery (no more scrounging around at Sala Diaz for the last copy) and free admission to the critics, starting with Hickey. If you join at a higher level, the $125 Night of Allusion and Illusion gala at the home of board member and patron Cecily Horton is complimentary. For more information, visit, but be quick: The official RSVP date is December 1, although when it comes to supporting a worthy cause, it's better late than never.

Compiled by Elaine Wolff