From a traveller standing on sand dunes littered with ephemera cast out from a giant’s pockets to a person prostrated nude before the LED screen of a smartphone displaying the unmistakeable F of Facebook’s logo, Naín León’s photos address the inherent unreality of the images we see on social media. The exhibition features a collection of 16 digitally manipulated photographs and holograms as well as integrated performance and viewer participation. Free, 6 p.m.-midnight, Friday, September 6.
Jesus Treviño: Behind Our Walls and Alán Serna: Casa de Cambio
Presa House continues to be the prime gallery in San Antonio for showcasing a daring and original array of Latinx artists. Treviño is an artist who is emblematic of the renaissance of a generation of young artists who were raised in the Rio Grande Valley and studied at UTRGV, developing a lush, dreamy portraiture style. Treviño’s works are thematically simple, depicting himself or his friends, but imbued with a jolting frisson of fractured perspective. The title, Behind Our Walls, speaks to the partitioned existence of immigrants and minorities and how such partition is both objectively real and deeply internalized.
Serna’s Casa de Cambio is described by the artist as: “…where you go to exchange currencies either from dollars to pesos or pesos to dollars. Growing up my home, was like a Casa de Cambio, a place of transition, negotiation, and exchange.”
Serna’s washed-out prints of South Texas and border landscapes and icons, in particular the ephemera of lavanderias and bodegas, are deeply haunting, melancholic, and beautiful. Serna finds a transient mystery in the hieroglyphics of a specific place. He subtly explicates the absurdity of borders and boundaries; there is a trail of brands, billboards, tickets, and IDs — replicating themselves, becoming fainter and faded from water and the sun — but still a record of existence, of a people, and a land.
At Presa House through August 31
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.
Presa House Gallery was selected as the winner of Best Art Gallery in the Around Town Category in the San Antonio Current’s Best of San Antonio® 2019 poll, as chosen by the readers of the San Antonio Current. Now in it’s 29th year, The San Antonio Current’s Best of San Antonio® issue showcases winners and finalists in over 150+ categories.
Launched in October of 2016 in a homey Southtown locale, Presa House Gallery is technically still in its infancy — which is somewhat hard to believe considering its robust fan base and steady track record of exhibitions. Co-founded by artists Jenelle Esparza and Rigoberto Luna, the aptly named favorite hooked us — and many others — early on with a Morrissey-inspired group show (“November Spawned a Moz Show”) and we haven’t stopped returning for smartly curated exhibitions that get revealed during First Friday celebrations with puro San Anto house-party vibes. Described by McNay Art Museum Director Richard Aste in a 2018 Sotheby’s article as “a wonderful showplace for emerging talent in the city’s thriving arts scene,” Presa House also wins props for recognizing of under-appreciated San Antonio artists and an inclusive bent that’s resulted in collaborations with artists, curators and galleries from Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, New York and Mexico.
Presa House in the city’s Southtown District is a wonderful showplace for emerging talent in the city’s thriving arts scene.
– McNay Art Museum Director, Richard Aste
Apr 3, 2018, San Antonio: A Museum Lover’s Guide
By Sotheby’s Museum Network
San Antonio Current / Bryan Rindfuss
Austin-based artist, musician and curator Steve Parker has earned considerable accolades for projects that blur boundaries between disciplines and often turn viewers and listeners into members of conceptual ensembles. Previous examples of what he describes as “communal, democratic work” include 2015’s Traffic Jam, which enlisted cyclists, pedicab drivers, the UTSA Trombone Choir and others to creatively conjure the cacophony of transportation gridlock in a parking lot. In 2016’s Lo Fi Cycle, a repurposed bicycle was Frankensteined into a playable musical instrument billed as “an imagined collaboration between Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Frank Zappa,” and 2018’s Grackle Call offered a performance-enhanced sound walk celebrating the “controversial and beloved” Texas birds that often congregate on power lines.
Summarized as an examination of “the history of conflict through sound,” Parker’s solo show War Tuba Recital debuted at Austin’s Big Medium gallery last year and earned considerable buzz — not to mention a $15,000 Tito’s Prize courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Drawing inspiration from obsolete acoustic locators used before the advent of radar, the exhibition creates an oddly immersive environment built around reconfigured brass instruments, looped sound, listening stations and “sonic headdresses.”
Possibly the most intricate aspect of Parker’s ongoing endeavor is Ghost Box, a wall-mounted sculpture named after a communication tool used by paranormal investigators. Once outfitted with headphones, gallery-goers can run their hands over its network of brass parts to hear clips of everything from Morse Code and spirituals of the Underground Railroad to ancient wind instruments such as the traditional Jewish shofar and a carnyx played by Iron Age Celts. Exemplifying Parker’s interest in coded transmissions, a series of “graphic scores” printed on the walls functions as a fusionist mural that nods to experimental composers John Cage and Cornelious Cardew, ballet choreography and the visual vocabulary of Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), who the multimedia artist reminds was not just an iconic children’s book author and illustrator but “a prolific maker of subversive secret art, wartime propaganda and controversial political cartoons.”
Before jetting off to New York City for a run at CUE Art Foundation, the participatory spectacle lands at Southtown’s Presa House Gallery in a site-specific iteration that opens to the public on First Friday, complete with a complementary performance by New York-based Texan bassist Tom Blancarte and Danish-American saxophonist, vocalist and composer Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen. Following the opening reception, “War Tuba Recital” remains on view by appointment through July 27.
$15,000 Tito’s Prize available for one Austin Artist
Big Medium (ATX) announces the third edition of Tito’s Prize, an award of $15,000 to be granted to one Austin-based artist. The Tito’s Prize is funded by a generous gift from Tito’s Handmade Vodka and facilitated by Big Medium, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing and cultivating artists and the contemporary arts in Austin and across Texas. The award includes a solo exhibition featuring the selected artist, on display from March 6 — April 4, 2020 in the Big Medium Gallery at Canopy.
This opportunity will be available to all artists within a 20 mile radius of Austin. Artists working in any artistic media and at any
stage in their career are eligible. A three member curatorial panel will unanimously select the prize-winning artist. The open call
will run June 27 — July 25, 2019.
Big Medium’s mission began in Austin, and we remain committed to supporting artists who live and work in this city. Our
partnership with Tito’s has made it possible for us to elevate an artist in our own community, we hope to keep doing this for many years to come. — Shea Little, Big Medium, Executive Director
The winner of the Tito’s Prize will be announced August 22, 2019. The winning artist’s solo exhibition will open on March 6,
2020 in the Big Medium Gallery.
MEET THE CURATORS
The Curatorial Panel includes Florencia Bazzano-Nelson, Assistant Curator, Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum of
Art (Austin); Annette Lawrence, Artist and Professor of Studio Art at the University of North Texas (Denton); and Rigoberto
Luna, Director and Curator at Presa House Gallery (San Antonio).
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson, Assistant Curator for Latin American Art, joined the Blanton Museum of Art in 2015. Her recent projects include co-curating Arte Sin Fronteras: Prints from the Self Help Graphics Studio (upcoming in October 2019) and Words/Matter: Latin
American Art and Language (2018). She also assisted in reinstalling the Latin American permanent collection as part of You Belong Here: Reimagining the Blanton (2017). Before joining the Blanton, Bazzano worked for the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford University and
the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. She also taught art history for many years and has an extensive list of publications, including the book Liliana Porter: The Art of Simulation (Routledge, 2008). Bazzano is an alumna of The University of Texas at Austin, where she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in Latin American Art from the University of New Mexico.
Annette Lawrence is an artist based in Texas since 1990. In 2018 she received a MacDowell Fellowship and anticipates exhibiting works completed at MacDowell in October 2019 at the Conduit Gallery in Dallas. Lawrence’s work is held in museums and private
collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Dallas Museum of Art, The Rachofsky Collection, Artpace, the Blanton Museum of Art, American Airlines and the Art Collection of the Dallas Cowboys. Her work was included in the 1997 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is an alumna of the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She received a BFA from the Hartford Art School and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Originally from New York, Lawrence lives and works in Denton, Texas and is a Professor of Studio Art at the University of North Texas.
Rigoberto Luna is an artist, designer, and curator in San Antonio, Texas where he is Director and Curator of the Presa House Gallery. Since 2016 Luna has curated over 30 exhibitions with a heavy focus on Latinx artists out of Central and South Texas. Recent major curatorial projects include Ctrl+A, at K Space Contemporary in Corpus Christi; Entre La Sombra: Life Along the Missions a collaboration with The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture World Heritage Office and the Office of Historic Preservation; as well as exhibitions with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and the former San Antonio Smithsonian Affiliate Museo Alameda. In addition, he is a visual artist who has exhibited his work with Public Art San Antonio, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (San Antonio), Flight Gallery (San Antonio), Good Children Gallery (New Orleans), and 3rd Space Gallery (San Antonio). Luna attended the Pratt Institute where he studied and became an accomplished designer.
Presa House Live @ KTRU 91.7, recorded May 27, 2019 on the campus of Trinity University.
Hosted by Marco Brotello, and Guest Curated by Rigoberto Luna of Presa House Gallery.
Presa House Gallery stopped by the studios of KRTU 91.7 on the campus of Trinity University to visit with Marco Brotello on his Strawberry Jam music show. Presa House Gallery owner and curator, Rigoberto Luna played music and discussed some of the bands and musicians that have recently played their on-going music series.
Calico Club (San Antonio Natives, Denver, Colorado)
Red Chandelier (Your Body and the Beat, 2017) – 5:02 mins
Played Presa House: July 20, 2018
Mind Shrine (Houston Texas)
Sad TV (Sad TV Single, 2018) – 2:58 mins
Played Presa House: April 20, 2019 – Booking: Dominic Walsh (Samantha Flowers, Slomobile, Boog, James Blue)
Ellis Redon (San Antonio, Texas)
Crashing (NEW LP, Blood Honey, 2019) – 4:49 mins
Played Presa House: January 27, 2019 booking: Ana García Merino (Kid Trails, Marco y Antonio, and Indoor Creature)
The Cold Tony’s (San Marcos, Texas)
Bake Love (Bake Love, 2017) – 4:16 mins
Played Presa House: February 15, 2019 (Midnight Cleaners, Dreambored)
Calico Blue (Amherst, Massachusetts / Austin, Texas)
Velvet (15 Sunrise LP, 2017) – 4:49 mins
Played Presa House: April 13, 2019 – Booking: Baldemar Esquivel (Baldemar, Nevil, Party Piece)
Como Las Movies (Austin, Texas)
Una Vuelta Mas (Nuevo Wave, 2018) – 2:18 mins
Played Presa House: April 27, 2019
Kid Trails aka Patrick Jeffords (Columbia, South Carolina)
Naming (Naming EP, 2018) – 3:23 mins
Played Presa House: January 27, 2019 booked: (Marco y Antonio, Indoor Creature, Ellis Redon)
Austin Leonard Jones (TX native, Ojai, California)
Mexican Cat Dance (Cujo, 2018) – 3:34 mins
Played Presa House: May 4, 2019 booked: Neil Fauerso (Little Wings, Jesse Jerome Jenkins)
Little Wings aka Kyle Field (Big Sur, California)
By Now (Explains LP, 2015) – 3:44 mins
Played Presa House: May 4, 2019 booked: Neil Fauerso (Austin, Leonard Jones, Jesse Jerome Jenkins)
Jesse Jerome Jenkins (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Told You So (Unreleased) – 3:17 mins
Played: May 4, 2019 booked: Neil Fauerso (Austin, Leonard Jones, Little Wings)
Space Dingus (Joplin, Missouri)
Check The Exists (Space Dingus, 2019) – 4:01 mins
Upcoming: June 24, 2019 booked: (Nuclear Juarez)
– – – –
Upcoming Presa House Performances:
Julian Martinez, Por Do Sol, Dreambored June 15th
Born Twins June 22nd
Space Dingus, Nuclear Juarez June 24th
Proof that big things can indeed come in small packages, Southtown’s quaint and homey Presa House Gallery traffics in far-reaching ideas and collaborations with artists, galleries and curators from beyond the San Antonio orbit. The latest example of co-directors Rigoberto Luna and Jenelle Esparza’s thoughtful programming takes shape in a multimedia exhibition organized in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). Launched in San Antonio in 1989 with a mission to promote, advance, develop and cultivate the Latino arts field, NALAC has distributed $2.3 million in grants to more than 185,000 Latin@/x artists and arts organizations across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Central America.
When it came to assembling the show, Luna approached more than a dozen artists who have earned NALAC grants over the years.
Thankfully the artists in the show enthusiastically decided to participate, many expressing deep gratitude for the role NALAC has played in their art careers, Luna told us.
Employing drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, illustration, video and collage to address themes of “self-exploration, cultural identity, race, history and socio-economic issues,” the resulting group show “A Common Vision brings together more than a few familiar names — including co-director Esparza, Fernando Andrade, Rolando Briseño, Anel Flores, Adriana Garcia, Raul Gonzalez, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Suzy Gonzales, Mari Hernandez, Veronica Jaeger, Michael Menchaca, Jesse J Ruiz, Ray Santisteban, Luis Valderas and Guillermina Zabala. Following the First Friday reception, “A Common Vision” remains on view by appointment through May 31.
Jose Villalobos was born and raised in the El Paso/Juarez region, steeped in the canonically masculine and generally conservative western and Norteño culture. His current show, Cicatrices, at Presa House Gallery in San Antonio (through March 30) applies a lens of gay and transgressive identity to archetypical symbols — the hooves of deer are manicured and nail-polished, cowboy boots are cast in glycerine (aka soap) and scented with rose or lavender. Villalobos’ work uncoils these totems erotically, as if they had been waiting in some stultifying sepia malaise for their Technicolor arrival.
Part of Villalobos’ practice involves his highly rigorous, ritualized performances, and on Sunday March 17, he performed at Rigoberto Luna’s family ranch south of San Antonio. (Luna is the co-founder and curator of Presa House Gallery with his partner Jenelle Esparza.) There is an endearing risk with doing these kind of high-concept, challenging, and intimate performances in unlikely locations. Quite simply: the deck is stacked against you. An audience may not show, the weather may mock your aspirations, and that elusive vibe of communion and a general frisson of reverence that could be described as liturgical might not materialize. It can end in folly. But sometimes, as on that Sunday, the elements align. It was a perfect spring day; the clouds plumed and froze like marble. People showed up. Norteño and Tejano music played on the PA. Luna’s mother prepared perhaps the best rice, beans, and guacamole I’ve ever tasted.
Then the performance began. Villalobos, barefoot, wearing denim with yellow fringes, was dragged across the ground by Rigo’s father’s horse into the corral. Villalobos has a preternatural gift to swing fluidly from cultural symbolism to psychology in his imagery. Immediately this introduction conjured thoughts of black people, Latinos, and Native Americans dragged through the desert — a legacy of conquest and murder. But there is simultaneously a striking and universal emotional resonance too — the recognition of being dragged into something, or dragged through the very shit of existence.
Inside the pen, there were four bales of hay positioned at the arcs of the enclosure , and each bale supported a pair of women’s shoes hidden under red velvet. The tableau had an elegant, sun-baked surrealism of de Chirico and Jodorowsky. Villalobos proceeded to uncover each pair of shoes, put them on, hoist the heavy bale on his back and stagger to the center of the corral, where he stacked the bales and cut the shoes off his feet with a switchblade. The repetition and release of this sequence was deeply cathartic. It spoke to the weight that women and LGBTQ people carry, and the relief that comes when that weight is dropped, even if temporarily. Standing behind him as he hoisted a bale, hay fluttered in the air like gold filings, and it was like a still from a film, realized in front of us. Performance art, when it clicks, becomes instantaneously cinematic and mythic.
Once the hay was stacked and formed a wall, Villalobos put on cowboy boots and a hat and proceeded to spray paint the gay slurs “Fag” and “Joto” onto the hay, before running full bore into the wall and scattering the hay. He then painfully stuffed hay into his shirt, creating an exaggerated hay gut. This was Villalobos becoming a literal straw man of masculinity, the intrinsic chafe in assuming that illusory stance.
In about 30 minutes, Villalobos had created a near-perfect and haunting cycle that meditated on racism, gender, the weight of the past hanging on one’s back — the universal desire to knock the walls down, cut the binds off, drop the mask, and be free.
Jose Villalobos will perform a final performance at the closing of ‘Cicatrices’ the evening of March 30 at Presa House Gallery, San Antonio.
Brandon Zech is with guests Adrian Aguilera, Tammie Rubin, and Betelhem Makonnen to talk about their show in Austin called constant escape, an important group show in College Station, and an alternative art fair called Satellite.
1. constant escape
George Washington Carver Museum (Austin)
March 7 – July 27
“Founding members of the Austin-based Black Mountain Project Adrian Aguilera, Betelhem Makonnen, and Tammie Rubin will debut a new body of work in sculpture, photography, text, and video. This collaborative exhibition, constant escape, provides a sensory experience for resisting absolute definitions of culture and identity.”
2. Satellite Art Show Austin
The Museum of Human Achievement (Austin)
March 13 – 17
The Austin premiere of the Satellite Art Show, a national art fair that highlights emerging and artist-run organizations and galleries. Glasstire has partnered with Satellite Austin and will be on site during the five-day event to record a podcast with fair attendees and guest hosts. In the DIY spirit of Satellite’s fairs, Glasstire’s staff will produce the podcast in a van-turned-sound booth just outside of MoHA’s building.
3. R. Eric McMaster & Michael Chesser: Bells Suspended from Clouds
January 27 – March 17
“Bells Suspended from Clouds approaches sound as sculpture material, and as a visual initiator. The exhibition features aural and visual elements inspired by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, who in the late 1800s and early 1900s created works at the intersection of music, light, and experience.”
4. She Matters
Wright Gallery, TAMU College Station
March 6 – April 26
“This exhibition showcases women of color and their responses to the prejudice, discrimination, violence and more that women of color face in today’s society. She Matters originated as a group show for the Art League in Houston titled How Do I Say Her Name? in 2017. Curated by Assistant Professor of Practice at Prairie View A&M University, Ann Johnson, the original group show included all of the same artists and was spurred by the 2015 news reports on the arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland. Johnson wanted to give a platform to women of color to creatively respond to issues such as family separation, law enforcement brutality, sexual assault and violence and more.”
Artists in the show include: Regina Agu, Rabéa Ballin, Ann Johnson, Autumn Knight, Lovie Olivia, Kaneem Smith, Rosine Kouamen, and Monica Villarreal.
5. Jose Villalobos: Cicatrices
Presa House Gallery (San Antonio)
March 1 – 30
A show of works by San Antonio artist Jose Villalobos. “In Cicatrices, Villalobos juxtaposes distress with a feeling of comfort deriving from patriarchal and religious social structures which marginalize gay identity. Using found objects, he manipulates material through the context of self-identity as he examines gender roles within family culture. Villalobos demonstrates that dismantling traditional modes of masculine identity center an interstitial space where materiality softens the virility. In his work Villalobos protests the toxicity of machismo through the use of objects, specifically within the norteño culture, that carry a history by deconstructing and altering them. Although new forms are created he demonstrates the battle between the acceptance being a maricón and assimilating to the cultural expectations.”