Artist Foundation unleashes another round of creative fervor…

zach-dorn-puppetry

A city teeming with talent. Artists whose creative juices flow constantly, filling them with visionary dreams of projects that will enrich our lives.

If…. If only they had a boost of support. A grant of $5,000 can jumpstart a project, freeing the artist to complete it and share the finished product.

This is what the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, a nonprofit organization founded by Bettie Ward and Patricia Pratchett, does. And does well.

Since 2006, the Artist Foundation has granted 102 artists residing in Bexar County $570,000. And the Artist Foundation recently completed another round of awards.

zach-dorn-performingZach Dorn, self-described as “a theater artist who aims to rediscover the suspension of disbelief from the six year-old within all of us and use it to reexamine life as an adult,” received both the Alan Beckstead Award for Original Production and the Tobin Grand Prize for Artistic Excellence.

Dorn writes:

This delicate resuscitation of the audience’s imaginative spirit has invoked the use of puppetry, live cinematic experimentations, fast-paced storytelling techniques, and reinvention…. Like unruly children, my ideas rebel against traditional performance techniques. My live puppet productions have moved away from conventional staging by transforming entire theater spaces into new and unfamiliar worlds.

Support from the Artist Foundation arrives atop earlier seed money Dorn received from The Jim Henson Foundation, and we will not need to wait long to appreciate the results. An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show will be presented by S.M.A.R.T. and Miniature Curiosa at their new Toy Theater Parlor inside 1906 South Flores at 8 p.m. on March 20, 21, 27 and 28; and April 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.

 

last-skin

 

 

Poet Barbara Ras received the Department for Culture and Creative Development Award for Literary Arts. Recently published collections of her poetry include One Hidden Stuff and The Last Skin.

In an online “conversation” on Granta, Ras offers this description of poetry:

Poetry, like all creativity, is an antidote to despair. Even the darkest poems are beautiful. For me, poetry is the only way to express what seems to me to be the essential quest: searching in the dark for answers to questions that are unanswerable.

Ras, the director of Trinity University Press, will read selections from The Last Skin during an evening of poetry beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, at The Twig, 306 Pearl Parkway.

stephen-gaethThe Department for Culture and Creative Development Award for Choreography will assist Stephan A. Gaeth, a founder of The Uptown Studio on Fredericksburg Road, in his efforts to:

…broaden my choreographic horizons by challenging myself to mix genres and styles and learn new ones, while creating and directing the plot and themes of the show.

Expect to see and hear more of Daniela Riojas, a vocalist and autoharp player with Femina-X, who received the Department for Culture and Creative Development Award for Media Arts.

 

The artistic statement for the “avant-garde power-pop band,” reads:

Using a blend of electronic beats, atmosphere, and foundational live instruments, the music stems from a hunger to evolve and merge magic with blues, trip-hop, jungle, and pop. Through a primal-meets-modern hybrid of machine and (wo)man, it actively hones in on the colorful space between any and all labels, while creating unconventional fusions – taking from sounds of nature, ancestors, electricity, modernity, and visions of ecstatic living.

Known for his mastery of danceable Latin-infused yet experimental beats, Alex Scheel from local psych-rock band, Pop Pistol…. conducts electronic programming while skillfully toggling from voice to guitar to laptop…. Jeff Palacios, deepens the overall landscape with the unique task of being a rhythmic yet melodic counterpart to the electronic bass and sub-bass movements. Chris Cooper humanizes quantized beats with frenetic poly-rhythms and four-on-the-floor power. Daniela”s chameleon voice has the range to both coo and siren, lull and frighten, always reaching from a place of passion, imagination, and child-like playfulness….

With a 2014-15 season that includes singing with Opera National de Paris, the San Francisco Opera, the Greensboro Opera and the Los Angeles Opera, Erich René Barbera still thinks of San Antonio as his hometown. The only artist to ever receive three top awards at Placido Domingo’s Operalia in Moscow in one year, the winner of  the TNT Award for Classical Singing is eager to expose children in San Antonio “to such a wonderful art form and encourage them to pursue their dreams like so many others encouraged me to follow mine….”

 

The Founders Award for Music Composition went to a faculty member of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Matthew Dunne. A frequent collaborator with The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, he has recorded three compact discs: Forget the Alamo, Music in the Mission and The Accidental Trio. Dunne’s grant will help him embark on his first film score project.

 

"The everlasting light bulb," 2014 painting/performance by Christie Blizard

“The everlasting light bulb,” 2014 painting/performance by Christie Blizard

Another professor at UTSA, Christie Blizard received the Rick Liberto Award for Visual Arts. The artist writes:

Much of my work is about exploring the space between painting and interventionist practices. These two fields are usually at odds, but I find it to be a rich pairing to negotiate new contexts, humor, and poetry.

"H," 2014 graphite on paper by Fernando Andrade

“H,” 2014 graphite on paper by Fernando Andrade

Graphic designer Fernando Andrade received the Linda Pace Foundation Award for Contemporary Art. The artist’s abstract paintings “deal with human emotions,” while his drawings often reflect social issues.

His Jugando a la Guerrita series of drawings:

…depicts a combination between my upbringing and adulthood memories in regard to the violence (of northern Mexico) and how it has corrupted society…. Through the images here, I hope to show a glimpse into the life of children growing up around violence and the emotions like revenge and anger that those children are likely to take into the adult world.

 

"God of Carnage," set design by Jeremiah Teutsch

“God of Carnage,” set design by Jeremiah Teutsch

The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund Awards went to Jeremiah Teutsch in the category of set design and Marcus Cerda for costume design. Teutsch describes his recent focus:

Most of my subject matter of late has been on the topic of and the consideration of death and terminality, and how society moves itself around the nasty business of dealing with the dead and the emotions that are inherent in regarding someone else’s mortality. This common fiber is present in my paintings, sculptures and, more recently, my set designs. It is my goal, in life and in art, to figure out what in the hell is going on.

"Dancer in Red" by Marcus A. Cerda

“Dancer in Red” by Marcus A. Cerda

Cerda’s recent work merges his background in the classical concepts of fashion design with his collage style of synthetic cubist paintings. He explains:

This convergence is applied by creating asymmetrical patterns and drapery to express the human body in a nonconforming and lyrical style. An intricate dialogue where each house has its own agenda but cannot help to feed off the other yet neither can successfully consume the other. Thus, the art for the human form is derived from – inspired by – dictated to – and produced with a strong sense of the radical non-conformist of the individual.

An incredible array of talent is represented by these San Antonio artists. To support the efforts of the Artist Foundation to enable artists to pursue their dream projects, visit the foundation’s website.

An Intimidating Week to Release a Book

The week started off with the head of Trinity Press, Barbara Ras, reading from The Last Skin at The Twig Book Shop.  Then there was the San Antonio Public Library Foundation’s spectacular Copyright Texas Dinner last night featuring the dynamic Carl Hiaasen.  His Star Island is populated with celebrities and paparazzi; there are drugs, sex and the excitement of a kidnapping.  Hiaasen’s book even has a sensational trailer. 

The stimulating journals of Anita Brenner, a young American Bohemian living in Mexico City amongst artists such as Frida and Diego, will be unveiled at the Instituto de Mexico in HemisFair Park at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 18, and then Saturday brings David Sedaris to town.

With so many important literary events this week, how can I possibly convince you to come out to The Twig at 5 p.m. tonight to celebrate the publishing of Last Farm Standing on Buttermilk Hill: Voelcker Roots Run Deep in Hardberger Park – a book with no drugs, sex or celebrities? 

Think of it as an intervention.  How could you leave me there alone with a case of wine?  And how about the music of Hank Harrison and the Lone Star Swingbillies in full cowboy regalia and the opportunity to support the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy? 

Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker certainly was no Cherry Pye, but that’s not a bad thing.  She was homegrown and reflects a part of our agricultural heritage we tend to forget. 

Hope to see you tonight at 5, or better call a cab for me.

Update on November 17:  Thanks to everyone who protected me by coming to share the wine!

The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund is donating 60 percent of the cover price of books sold during the November 16 celebration at The Twig Book Store to the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, which kept the former mayor smiling. (photo by Kathy Babb)

Update on November 27:  “Urban Spotlight” blogger focuses on the celebration at The Twig….

Barbara Ras’ ‘Elephant’ in ‘New Yorker’

Barbara Ras, director of Trinity University Press, has one of her poems featured in the March 15 issue of The New Yorker:

Washing the Elephant

by Barbara Ras, March 15, 2010

Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas
of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,
the cratered full moon’s light fuelling
the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize
your parents in Heaven,” instead of
“Being one with God will make your mother and father
pointless.” That was back when I was young enough
to love them absolutely though still fear for their place
in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full
of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,
to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies
about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them
as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins
to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,
Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.
Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading
through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants
made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel
and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.
So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking
after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined
for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken pathos.

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.

Barbara, who will publish a collection of poems, The Last Skin, later this month, also had a poem appear in The New Yorker in 2006.  She will be one of the more than 20 writers in the spotlight for Wordworkers, an exhibit opening at Bihl Haus Arts from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 19.   During the opening, poets photographed by Melanie Rush Davis “will scrawl their poetry on gallery walls.” 

Other featured writers include Carmen Tafolla, Marian Haddad, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Cisneros, Nan Cuba, Rosemary Catacalos, Jenny Browne, John Phillip Santos and Bryce Milligan.  As the exhibition at Bihl Haus continues, there will be a reading and small press book fair from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, and a poetry reading by Jim LaVilla-Havelin from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 8.  Bihl Haus Arts is located at 2803 Fredericksburg Road.

Barbara’s “Washing the Elephant” brought forth memories of the weekly visits to the confessional that forced me, as well, to make up imaginary sins to tell the rigid Father Habit at Star of the Sea.

Note Added on May 9Review of “Washing the Elephant” and Ras’ The Last Skin

Update on November 5:  Barbara Ras will discuss The Last Skin at The Twig Book Shop at Pearl Brewery from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 14.

Update on September 11, 2012: Gemini Ink is honoring Barbara Ras at its 15th Annual Inkstravaganza at Pearl on Thursday, September 27, and one should never miss an opportunity to hear the utterances emitted by Coleen Grissom.