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.

Miracles attributed to Panchito continue to mount up in Mexico.

The Italian hill town of Assisi might be overrun by tourists and pilgrims, but the stories of the miracles of Saint Francis manage to bubble up through the clutter. The saint’s holy cards often depict him surrounded by fluttering brown sparrows, but they fail to convey some of the richer stories.

I mean stories such as how Saint Francis threw himself naked upon a rose-bush as punishment for impure thoughts only to have the thorns miraculously fall off the bush so as not to prick him. Bet he was thankful for that one. But I understand a naked man hugging a rose-bush might not be deemed appropriate for a holy card. My favorite Saint Francis miracle was his taming of the fierce killer wolf terrifying the residents of neighboring Gubbio.

On the holy card that is part of a digital collage (“¡Qué milagro! Four bullets in the back and alive to give thanks 25 years later.”) I donated for SAY Si’s annual Small Scale art sale, I felt compelled to add a few extra birds to better illustrate the claim that birds would stop mid-chirp to listen to Saint Francis’ sermons and, of course, to add a tame-looking wolf.

But what sent me digging up this holy card was a photograph from the side chapel in the Parroquia Purisima Concepcion in Real de Catorce, a former ghost town now a mecca drawing both tourists and pilgrims, in much the same way as Assisi. The walls of the entire chapel are covered with retablos, pictures and stories often painted on sheets of tin, left in gratitude by the beneficiaries of miraculous interventions by Saint Francis, affectionately known as Panchito. One retablo that caught my attention was left by Jesus Espinosa Diaz de Leon in 2006 to express his gratitude to Sr. San Francisco de Asis for saving him from bullets fired into his back on the streets of San Luis Potosi in 1981.

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The rich interior of the Parroquia in Real de Catorce reflects the origins of the town itself; the workers mining the veins of silver running through the mountains signed a commitment in 1779 to donate silver toward its construction on a weekly basis. Real was so wealthy, it not only had a palenque for cock fights but an opera house. There was such an abundance of silver, the town had its own mint coining reales. To make the town and its silver more accessible, an engineering marvel of a tunnel almost 1 1/2 miles long was carved through one of the surrounding formidable mountains in 1901.

With the silver seemingly played out, the town died. Colonial buildings began to fall into ruin, and it probably would have become a complete ghost town were it not for Panchito. Some time after the Mexican Revolution, word spread throughout the country about miraculous cures of humans and animals believed to have been granted following prayers to St. Francis of Assisi. The statue in the parish church began to attract pilgrims. Particularly on his Feast Day, October 4, they jam the tunnel and overwhelm the town to pay tribute to the patron saint of merchants, animals and ecology.

While the town has undergone a revival caused by curious travelers, there is another revival many are eyeing with distrust. New technologies now make it possible to extract more metal from the surrounding mines, and in a wonderful series of posts on Huffington Post, Tracy Barnett reveals in words and photos that the Huichols are displeased. She describes a February 6 all-night ceremony involving the sacrifice of a calf:

Soon the maraka’ate assembled and the plaintive wail of the Wixarika fiddles began to ring out in the darkness. The chants of the maraka’te rose on the wind; the ceremony had begun.

All throughout the long night these priests of ecology, as Liffman called them, sang their entreaties to the spirits that inhabit this place, an improvisation of melodies from different villages and different eras in time. They conducted their ancestral dialog with Grandfather Fire, an intermediary between the maraka’te and their deities. The sacramental peyote they had hunted in the desert the day before was working its magic.

Maybe, if the Huichols combined their dialogues with Grandfather Fire with prayers to Saint Francis of Assisi in his role as the patron saint of ecology, the potent powers would unite to spare the land from more intrusive mining.

This is an absurdly long-winded approach to suggest you take advantage of SAY Si Small Scale art sale to build your collection. More than 200 artists have contributed works to the silent auction. It will be impossible to view them all before they start disappearing off the walls during the final party on Friday, March 23. So consider going online quickly and purchasing tickets to the preview party on Thursday, March 1, or stop by SAY Si between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday or 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday until March 23. And then it will be too late.

Added on March 9, 2012: This post needed a soundtrack – Gretchen Peters’ “Saint Francis.”

The Birth of Three-Ton Tally

Emerging from the creative founders of RAT (Rock Carvers, Artists and Themebuilders), Thom Hunt and Mark Whitten, Tally began to hatch in the backyard of San Antonian Kirby Whitehead more than a week ago. Volunteers showed up to work on her every day beginning about 5 a.m., according to logistical coordinator Wes Vollmer.

A spinal cord of 6-inch steel spread out into a network of 3-inch and 2-inch steel welded together. Then rebar was shaped and welded to flush out her massive shape even more. A web of SpiderLath fiberglass over this provided the base for the first shot of concrete.

Today, volunteers and workshop participants – Theming in Large Scale – are putting finishing touches on her in the middle of an exhibit hall at the Convention Center as part of the Concrete Decor Show. Whitten was carving Tally’s scales this morning out of a softer outer layer of concrete, while Julia Dworchack was polishing her teeth. The first blush of color has been applied to her cheeks.

With a spiky “sail” running along her spine and weapon-like talons on her front “arms,” the life-size carnivorous Acrocanthosaurus is beginning to look ferocious. And she’s substantial. Measuring almost 30 feet from her snout to the tip of her tail, she now weighs in at about three tons – three tons Vollmer is going to have to move to the south side of the Witte Museum, where she will appear poised to relentlessly pursue some peaceful, vegetable-loving sauropod grazing in Brackenridge Park. 

This large gift the concrete artisans are leaving behind them after their convention is in addition to the sidewalk patterns, faux-crete fountain and 5,000 square feet of concrete cosmetology they have completed at SAY Si (covered in an earlier post).

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Meet here again, and I’d be happy to let you conduct a workshop – Concrete Challenges: Can this floor be saved? – in our loft.