As we mentioned in the Around Town section of this year’s Best of San Antonio issue, Southtown’s award-winning Presa House Gallery has distinguished itself not just with consistently solid exhibitions but by championing underrepresented talents and organizing cultural exchanges that welcome non-local artists. Those qualities promise to coalesce in a big way with the gallery’s August pairing of Jesus Treviño and Alán Serna.
A San Antonio native who grew up in Brownsville, graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and is headed for grad school at UT Austin in the fall, Treviño excels at representational painting but often takes his portraits into surreal territory by incorporating obscuration, fragmentation and elements of abstraction. A prime example, his puzzle-like painting installation Fragmentation of Self — which took home best in show at the Brownsville Museum of Art’s 47th Annual International Exhibition — depicts the artist dissected and scrambled between six mismatched window frames. Treviño’s creative exploration of fragmentation carries over into his debut solo show “Behind Our Walls,” which also tackles “physical and metaphorical boundaries — from the border to the walls of our home and emotional façades.”
Born in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, Serna earned a BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and an MFA in printmaking from the University of Kentucky and is presently working as a professor of drawing and painting at UTSA. Among the many talented artists featured in Freight Gallery’s excellent 2018 exhibition “Images of Power,” Serna draws inspiration from personal experiences, pop culture and digital technology to address “locational identity, personal and political immigrant narratives and themes of biculturalism, acculturation and assimilation.” Nodding somewhat conceptually with its title to currency exchange outposts, his “Casa de Cambios” conjures urban slices of borderland life through photo-based prints of cityscapes and sculptural work informed by everyday ephemera.
Free, opening reception 6-11 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, on view by appointment through Aug. 31,m 2019.