Two days, three big art events, and one eager arts writer was the combination Art Capades needed to kick-start last weekend’s full slate of events. The festivities began with Chalk it Up, while a few hours later Art in the Hood – Fall Art Walk started in Southtown, and just blocks away South Flores’s bustling art scene kicked off with the first annual SMART Fair.

Past years haven’t granted Chalk it Up the best luck when it came to weather, but this year proved to be sidewalk-chalk perfect for the day-long event. There was still a breeze in the air when the event began — kids were let loose in three closed-off blocks on Houston Street and given buckets of chalk to ... well, chalk it up.

Eleven showcased artists were featured throughout the space. Taking up the area near Acenar overlooking the San Antonio River, Ricky Armendariz’s work featured a blue-and-white tornado-like heart with the words “tu amor es like un tornado …” Crowds gathered near the professional artists some of whom used intricate devices to lift them over their work, while others preferred using stencils, or even opted to go freehand. Twenty-two solo artists’ works were on display alongside 38 team projects.

Half a block of Houston Street was dedicated to public murals where children as well as adults took chalk in hand to create mini-masterpieces. The Kidzone featured a colorful assortment of activities to keep the kids entertained for hours. Magazine Chalk combined pictures from magazines to create colorful chalk montages. Chalk Me Beautiful offered a handmade chalk background scene for a Poloroid portrait.

South of SoFlo, SMART Fair offered an eclectic selection of works in art, music, film, and theater. Salon Mijangos commenced festivities in their gallery with “Sticky Fingers,” where children 5 and older learned the art of making piñatas. Fl!ght Gallery’s group show Greetings from Mañana Land displayed works from Vanessa Centeno, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Ed Saavedra, and more. Bunnyphonic’s “Emotional Architecture” drew in patrons with its red flashing light above a hand-sewn tower, presented on lime green felt with a toy plane.

We stepped into One9Zero6 Gallery while a bilingual children’s performance was taking place. Kids sat in the middle of the gallery while adults perused the group show Letterforms, curated by Chuck Ramirez. A varied selection of mixed media was on display, including a flickering TV set and Robert Tatum’s work “F is for Fellatio,” a sealed infant’s bodysuit with Elmo.

Gallista Gallery’s open mic starred a line-up of local poets including Richard J. Martinez, owner of Mito’s Gallery, which is housed in Gallista. He began with a poignant poem titled “I Always Believe,” inspired by the movie Fantasia. A crowd of more than 20, young and old, looked on as Martinez recited his poem with lines such as, “I always believe in moonlight. It posses a mysterious power … it lets kisses last forever.” The gallery also presented L.A. David’s funky burro prints at the first annual international Burro art exhibit.

The last stop on our Art Capades tour was Southtown’s 16th annual Art in the Hood — Fall Art Walk. While we strolled along, near 5 p.m., many galleries were either closed or just about to shut down, as Saturday also marked all-day King William garage sales. Twenty-eight shops participated in the event, from galleries to restaurants.

Since First Friday proved to be a pretty packed evening for Joan Grona Gallery, a second attempt to observe the work proved beneficial. Walking into the gallery you’ll notice the enormous piece “Phases” by Suzanne Paquette, rendered in enamel, charcoal, ash, limestone, chalk, and sandstone. Twenty-eight phases of the moon show all the imperfections only a top-notch telescope could detect. As her artist statement noted, the piece connects “the rhythms of the women on this planet and those of the moon.”

SMART Fair organizer Andy Benavides’s “Springtime inspired by squirrels and nuts” looked sweet on the postcard publicizing the event. Benavides’s show included 12 alumalite pieces; 10 show silhouettes of animals mating including kangaroos, elephants, bulls, and what appear to be dinosaurs. His use of springtime colors paired with the silhouettes of the animals copulating provided a nice contrast between his calm hues and Paquette’s moody palette selection.

Whew … so much art, so little time, until the next Art Capades.

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