Even as we tip our Miss CAM crowns to all of those who have shown, celebrated, inebriated and contemplated contemporary art in San Antonio this month, there are still a few under-the-radar galleries left to attend. Lady Base is a new independent artist-run gallery in the Lone Star Arts District that aims to showcase female and LGBT artists only. The gallery is located inside Gallista arts compound at 1913 South Flores, which showcases mostly barrio art but is also home to Third Space Art Gallery and serves as the studio of Sarah Castillo, founder of Lady Base and member of the Chicana feminist collective Más Rudas.
Castillo said that one of the main reasons Más Rudas came together as a collective was to bring the culture and perspective of feminist Chicanas into the art gallery. “We want to move forward with that [idea] by curating shows, exhibiting new artists, artists who are not seen or who don’t even know they are artists, [because] there are so many artists in town who are closet artists.”
Castillo sees the gallery as a space for artists to conceptualize and produce new work: “I just provide the space to do whatever it is that the artist wants to do; experiment, refine their work, explore fields of discourse,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people who are interested in showing.”
Lady Works, the first series of shows curated by Más Rudas at the new gallery, featured the work of Chris Davila, Audrya Flores and Suzy Gonzalez, and displayed the vulnerability and power of women.
Mother of Thousands, a self-portrait by Audrya Flores, has the layered gaze of a strong-willed woman. Outlines of vibrant color create a tense conflicted movement, but underneath all the layers the painting is constructed of paper bags; once used for holding things but now holding a deeper purpose: contemplation. Paired with the painting is the plant also called Mother of Thousands, a poisonous invasive plant that propagates asexually. The living plant acts as a reminder that conception, in all its wonderous processes, is one that must be monitored and if left to the wild, has the potential to become destructive.
In the triptych Lolita Devoured by Suzy Gonzalez, layers of skin are removed, leaving the exposed anatomy of human and bovine. Here the artist aims (with a humor) to examine the notion of various biological, cultural and social distinctions. The cow with a loving gaze fixated on the human with its tongue hanging out highlights the pleasure principles of each.
In Chris Davila’s Wishes Lost in the Clouds, four small beds rest on clouds made of cotton. The wood used to construct the small beds is from Davila’s own marital bed and represents the four miscarriages that the artist suffered through. Davila says in her artist statement “… what I learned is that unrealized dreams are not meant to be a heavy weight on our shoulders, nor constant reminders of what could have been.”
On Sunday, March 24, Lady Base held an hour-long artist talk moderated by Claudia Zapata, art historian and curator for Mexic-Arte Museum. One question was how a feminist space like Lady Base is affected by operating inside Gallista (“gallo’” is Spanish for “rooster” or “cock,” if you will). Artist Joe Lopez, owner of the Gallista compound, saw the irony, but said he was glad that Lady Base has moved in and is excited to hear the new discussions Lady Base will bring.
Lady Works was on view at Lady Base from March 2-24. On Saturday, March 30 the gallery will hold a release party for Suzy Gonzalez’ feminist zine, Yes, Ma’am, from 6-9 p.m. Her solo show opens on April 13.