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Arts The art capades 

If you can't beat the young (p.s. you can't), join 'em

June 30 belonged to the old guard at Blue Star. The parking lot was full of vendors, a musical stage, and Randy Wallace's performance-art prize booth, all there in the name of celebrating Blue Star 20, the gallery's 20th Contemporary Art Month exhibition. It was a party for the originators, some of whom shouldered up together on stage for a few moments of due recognition.

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Collaborative sculpures by Ken Little and Richie Budd hang in Blue Star's Gallery Four. (Photos by Julie Barnett)

We owe those former pissed-off contemporary artists and supporters a lot. They found a way to bypass the man (larger museums like SAMA) and show their work. They brought the first installation art to speak of to San Antonio. They started Contemporary Art Month and we are forever grateful to wear ourselves out each July with it.

The gorilla in the room, though, is Blue Star's oedipal complex. The sons (and daughters) are taking over with edgy, consistently good art shows. In terms of shows with lasting importance, Cactus Bra, Three Walls, and the UTSA Satellite Space, for example, do more with their limited square footage of exhibition space than Blue Star does with its whole converted warehouse.

UTSA graduate student Richie Budd alone is like a second coming (of what, we're not sure). He tirelessly churns out shows at Satellite that promote up-and-coming artists. He and his friends still exhibit that "we'll do anything for art" danger that commands respect, even when it borders on the comical.

Siamese Triplets (115 Blue Star, 212-7146, through July 31) opened that same evening in the Satellite, featuring Budd, Brian Jobe, and Jimmy Kuehnle. Jobe riffs on the theme of white plastic loop tags, turning them into political drawings, pink plastic apexes, and wasp nests. Kuehnle exhibits bicycles he creates and rides for performances - "Fuck Bike" and "The Bike that Draws"- as well as spacey costumes. Whatever you think of his performances, you have to respect his arty verve.

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Jimmy Kuehnle's art-making bike and "Fuck Bike" are on view at UTSA Satellite Space, along with sculpture by Richie Budd, and sculpture and drawings by Brian Jobe.

Budd's signature is a mound of oozing synthetics and garbage that farts and burps, while sensors set off audio and video interludes. "Last Year This Time Next Year," a large sculpture, is no exception. It's a mess, but bless this mess. It spews suds and its musical interludes really add something. One of its smaller offshoot pieces, "Untitled (Stroller)," features a doll buggy, doll head, and other small items submersed in ectoplasm. It seems morbid until you realize, hell, the toys are all plastic to begin with and our kids live in a huge pile of plastic anyway. Budd's central mass on wheels is lightened by an umbrella, floating balloons, and masthead flag that transform it into a contraption out of a British novel-turned-'60s film, something by Jules Verne or H.G. Wells.

The best move a more established artist can make is to accept the challenge. Ken Little does that in an aptly named collaborative show called Risk in Blue Star's Gallery 4. Little offered two of his dollar-bill figures, remnants from his Artpace 95.4 residency, to Budd. Together they drilled, filled, and layered the figures with Budd's ooze and their collected thrift-store finds. The altered figures are like deep-sea divers, floating from the ceiling, buoyant on their own gaseous emissions. A collaborative soundtrack reads warning labels from common household goods. Surveillance screens force you to watch yourself watching them.

That small room is so interesting and so aqueous in nature, it is a respite from the larger Blue Star show. It's like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, sitting on the swimming pool bottom in full scuba gear, trying to escape the sentence of adulthood and his father's friend, who advised, "I have one word for you, Benjamin. Plastics."

By Catherine Walworth

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