Art you must see at SAY Sí

More than 200 small-scale works of art that you have never seen before hang on the walls of the galleries at SAY Sí.

Oda al Otoño by Guillermina Zabala

Oda al Otoño donated by Guillermina Zabala

Here are some of the reasons you need to make time this week to view these pieces:

  1. These original works of art are by more than 200 different artists, some you might know, some awaiting your acquaintance.
  2. There is no charge for enjoying this artwork this Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  3. By Saturday, March 23, this opportunity will be lost; most of these works of art will never be seen in public spaces again.
  4. If you fall in love with any of this art, you can own it.
  5. If you fall in love with a piece of this art before Wednesday at 7 p.m., you can pay a small fee over its value to purchase it before others have an opportunity to outbid you.
  6. You might even get a bargain; bidding opens at a fraction of the value of the finished work, and people get distracted (Jump to Numbers 16 and 18.) In many cases, opening pricing probably does not even cover the cost of framing. But that is not the point; all proceeds benefit SAY Sí, serving San Antonio’s youth via a year-round, long-term, non-profit multidisciplinary arts program providing students opportunities to develop artistic and social skills in preparation for higher educational advancement and professional careers.
  7. Sure you possibly can get a bargain by waiting until the last minute, but pick up a pencil and bid. Bids attract bids; re-read No. 6.
  8. Where else can you get to know the work of so many talented area artists so quickly? The works in the show are good. The artists’ reputations are at stake, so they submit some of their best work.
  9. Many of the artists participating in this show normally work in a much larger format. This means, they often create a smaller piece just for SAY Sí. This also means, you might have the opportunity to collect something by an artist you love but cannot normally afford to buy in large-scale.
  10. Established artists donate to this show because they believe in offering a hand up to the young and talented. Re-read No. 6. So bid.
  11. Artists get nothing in return. In fact, the IRS only lets an artist deduct the cost of materials as a charitable donation; for example, the cost of the piece of paper and the frame. So bid, they deserve bids as nods of appreciation of their talents and their contributions.
  12. If you invest in a small piece of art, it might make you rearrange your collection at home. Rearranging your art makes you notice and appreciate it all anew.
  13. Attend the closing silent-auction party from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 22. You can offer additional bids, and there will be beer, wine, food, friends and fun.
  14. Many of the artists attend the closing auction, so you can meet and visit with them.
  15. If you don’t fall in love with a piece of art, maybe you will fall in love with an artist. Sure, artists have their quirks, but they make life interesting.
  16. Visit SAY Sí before Friday night because there is no way you will be able to view and ponder more than 200 works in even the entire 135 minutes before the last wave of the silent auction bidding closes. During those minutes, you also will be eating, drinking and chatting with friends, both old ones and newfound.
  17. If you cannot preview this show in person in advance (See No. 16.), you can view the works online (Hint, this doesn’t seem to download properly until you nudge it with an additional click.).
  18. You should bid early, because you might get distracted during the party and not be able to make your way back to your favorite piece (Refer to 13-16).
  19. You should bid early and often (Refer to 6, 7 and 11.).
  20. Sure, there are many more reasons, but aren’t the 19 above enough?
El West Side, papel picado by Kathleen Trenchard

El West Side, papel picado by Kathleen Trenchard

This posting represents my act of contrition. Although I have contributed to this auction in the past, I somehow let life’s distractions interfere this year.

But don’t you let life’s distractions make you miss this show at SAY Sí. Whether you fall in love and bid or not, you will enjoy the art.

Yet another reason to drink beer during Fiesta: Preserving our quills

If peculiarities were quills, San Antonio de Bexar would be a rare porcupine. Over all the round of aspects in which a thoughtful mind may view a city, it bristles with striking idiosyncrasies and bizarre contrasts.

Retrospects and Prospects by William Sydney Porter (O Henry)

Often I only hear brief tidbits from longer stories on Texas Public Radio because of the short distance between errands, and some of these are pleas for funds – particularly critical now as Congress is once again picking on the funding provided Public Radio. But even Public Radio’s fundraising requests can be enlightening or entertaining; although I’m certainly happy Ira Glass never has called personally to pin us to the mat about the size of our contribution.

In one of the local pitches the other day, David Martin Davies talked about his visit to the O. Henry House downtown (My apologies possibly, because, for the above reason, I am not positive who was speaking.). He pointed out a few historical inaccuracies, such as the small stone structure should be called O. Henry’s Office and “O. Henry’s typewriter” on display in the shuttered museum was not manufactured until two years after the author’s death. But the typewriter hooked him, and he ended up buying one just like it on ebay for $50. What’s great is not only does the antiquated typewriter work, but the next generation in his family loves typing on the strange piece of machinery not connected to a screen.

Okay, I have probably lost all readers by now. Where does the beer figure into this rambling post?

Davies mentioned on air that the Texas Public Radio spot on the O. Henry House was part of a new series focusing on historic preservation, and this series is made possible by a grant from the San Antonio Conservation Society. The main source of income for the San Antonio Conservation Society is A Night in Old San Antonio, or NIOSA, which gets underway on Tuesday, April 12. So, much as with the prior post about the King William Fair, every beer you drink helps the Conservation Society’s efforts to preserve San Antonio’s distinctive heritage.

Seems O. Henry would have approved, as even he remarked long ago of San Antonio’s party spirit:

…it stands with all its gay prosperity just on the edge of a lonesome, untilled belt of land one hundred and fifty miles wide, like Mardi Gras on the austere brink of Lent….

Retrospects and Prospects by William Sydney Porter (O Henry)

So let the Fiesta begin (even in the midst of Lent), and keep San Antonio quilled.

P.S. Help even more by purchasing one of Kathleen Trenchard’s 2011 NIOSA pins.

April 10, 2011, Update: Paula Allen writes about the giant “party with a purpose.”

Preserving the Art of ‘Papel Picado’

The American translation I grew up with is hardly picturesque – brightly colored plastic triangles strung along roadways, noisily flapping in the breeze in vain attempts to motivate you to “stop here for gas” or “trade in your car today.”  But, as with many humble or utilitarian objects in Mexico, banners were elevated to a form of art and signified celebrations important to the community.  Papel picado, or punched paper, artists use hammer and chisel to punch designs out of stacks of up to 40 layers of tissue at a time.

As part of the San Antonio Conservation Society’s celebration of Historic Preservation Month, a display of papel picado, or punched paper, by artist Kathleen Trenchard is on exhibit in the Visitors Center of The Steves Homestead.  While her work includes traditional papel picado banners, Kathleen’s contemporary interpretation of the art form includes portraits, buildings and major public art installations – at the AT&T Center, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center and the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  Kathleen also designed the official Fiesta pin for the Conservation Society’s major fundraiser, A Night in Old San Antonio, or NIOSA.

The legendary printmaker and satirical cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created his oft-reproduced “La Calavera Catrina” to satirize the lifestyle of the upper class in Mexico in the late 1800s.  In one of the works on exhibit at the Steves’ Visitors Center, Kathleen crafts a skeletal “self-portrait” as a dancing partner of La Catrina.  

“Portraits” of architectural landmarks featured in the exhibit include the Bexar County Courthouse, the Japanese Tea Garden, the silos at Blue Star and the Pig Stand.  The one must suitable for the cause of preservation follows the satirical style of Posada:  “Demolition:  1123 Brooklyn.”

In recognition of her artistic perpetuation of this form of Mexican folk art, the Conservation Society will bestow its Lynn Ford Craftsman Award upon Kathleen at its Historic Preservation Awards Dinner on Friday, May 14.  The Conservation Society established the award in 1978 in honor of Lynn Ford, a craftsman, cabinetmaker, builder and teacher.

Preserving the Art of Papel Picado will be on display at the Visitors Center located behind The Edward Steves Homestead and House Museum, 509 King William Street, through June.  The Visitors Center and Museum are open daily, but hours vary depending on scheduled tours.  For more information, telephone 210.225.5924.

Tickets for the Conservation Society’s Awards Dinner are $75 for individuals or $600 for a table of eight.  For reservations, telephone 210.224.6163.  To find out information about other Preservation Month activities, visit www.saconservation.org.

So what could the “prodigious poster” learn from a form of art where what is eliminated paints the picture?  Cut.

Added on May 3:  Great article on the area of Puebla known for papel amate