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Artifacts Art around town 

News and notes from the San Antonio art scene

Mistaken identity

The Wednesday of Fiesta, I was fidgeting in an orange polyester formal dress, mightily regretting my decision to view Coronation - the 96-year-old fête at which San Antonio's upper crust makes like royalty; among the last names of former court members you will find Guenthers, Terrells, and Steves - when the spotlight swirled and lit up San Antonio Museum of Art Director Marion Oettinger, Lord High Chamberlain for the Court of the Spirit of the Americas.

As the triumphal opening chords of the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme blared, Oettinger bounded up the runway in safari khakis and a glittering gold pith helmet. With great sincerity, as if reading a bedtime story, the director of the city's premiere museum announced the presentation of Her Grace Cassandra Nile of the House of Longoria, Duchess of Glorious Mexican Market, "Inspired by a rich cultural history of Mexico," and, "Savoring the heavenly taste of chocolate," The Duchess of the Richness of Cacao, &tc. &tc. I hope that the Frosts (of Frost Bank) who were in the audience for the debut of Her Grace Cecilia Holden of the House of Frost, Duchess of Kokopelli's Gifts (that's Kokopelli, patron saint of Santa Fe, incarnated as kitschy, flute-playing, statuettes) are planning to write SAMA a big fat check, because Oettinger has earned it.

Meanwhile, at Linda Pace's birthday party on April 16, former SAMA board chair Sarah Harte arrived dressed as Peggy Guggenheim - the heiress who championed abstract modernism and was key in introducing post-war American art to Europe, and is now the subject of a one-woman Broadway show - complete with a pooch under each arm. Is Harte, who resigned her position in 1999 after a frustrating tenure butting heads with a conservative board, signaling that when it comes to art, she intends to play the occasionally influential collector and gadfly? Or will the granddaughter of newspaperman Houston Harte Sr. one day emerge as a Solomon (the Guggenheim who founded the globe-spanning museum empire) in her own right?

Would a yard-sale permit do?

Lest you mistake this "Artifacts" for "Around the Town," we'll direct you to some serious business affecting the Sculptors Dominion Invitational, the near-indiscriminate, yet admirable, sculpture extravaganza hosted by Gilbert Barrera at Villa del Carmen on Vance Jackson Road. Barrera, who plans to open a sculptors' school next spring, has been cited by the City's code compliance department for operating a gallery without a business permit. For more info, see "Party Lines," in this issue of the Current.

The envelope, please ...

Congratulations to artist and San Antonio College instructor Joan Fabian (the Current's pick for Best Struggling Artist in Best Of 2004) recipient of a one-year Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. Props, too, to Eileen Maxson, recent Artpace resident Robyn O'Neil, and Robert A. Pruitt of Houston, and Dallas artist Ludwig Schwarz `see "Here today, gone today," March 25-31, 2004, for a review of his Three Walls show`, the first Arthouse Texas Prize finalists. The winner will be announced at Arthouse's annual gala, November 4.

Compiled by Elaine Wolff

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