Houston to San Antonio

by Rachel Hooper December 9, 2012

Justin Randolph Thompson, Performance of Tossin’ the Rag at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, December 6, 2012

We arrived at Blue Star Thursday night to a performance of Justin Randolph Thompson’s Tossin’ the Rag as part of his exhibition Meet Me in the Bottoms. A rag doll was being thrown in the air from a blanket while the artist performed with a group of collaborators. They were accompanied by a small band facing the wall behind them. The performance was full of artful allusions to folk stories and traditions, second line and maybe even to Goya’s The Straw Manikin. It was an exhilarating start to a fun visit to San Antonio. The following is a recap of some of my favorite art that we saw on our trip . What a great art scene they have there!

My husband Jonathan Leach and I at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center. Photo: Mark Ponder

My husband was included in an exhibition called Dirty Dozen, curated by Catherine Anspon. Houston artists Ann Wood, Susan Plum, Nancy Douthey and Liza Littlefield are also in the exhibition, as are San Antonio artists Esteban Delgado, Gabriel Diego Delgado, Claudio Dicochea, Michele Monseau, Ethan Moore, Ivan Salcido and Gary Schafter.

Ann Wood in Dirty Dozen at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center


Liza Littlefield in Dirty Dozen at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center

Also in the Blue Star complex is a satellite space for UTSA that has two small exhibitions—two reductive, meditative video installations by Brian Fridge, one of which is excerpted below, and Benjamin H. McVey‘s MFA Thesis exhibition of poetic combinations of text and sculpture.


Benjamin H. McVey, The Joke Is Not On You, No. 1 of 5 (2012) Edition of 5, wood and plastic

The next day, we went to Artpace’s ever popular Taco Friday and checked out the quirky Dikeou Collection and International Artists In Residence 12.3. I love the inclusion of Royal Art Lodge drawings in the Dikeou Collection. (File this under random Houston fact: Claudia Schmuckli discovered in her research for the Jon Pylypchuk exhibition that the Royal Art Lodge had their first exhibition at the University of Houston in 1997.) I also enjoyed the unexpected and unabashed prettiness of David Benjamin Sherry‘s photographs and painted boulders.

Royal Art Lodge, A Christmas Story (2001), 43 drawings, dimensions variable; and Drue Langois, Polio and Palsey (2000), wood, steel, felt, 74 inches x 22 inches x 18 inches. From Swap Meet: Artpace and the Dikeou Collection, Denver, CO. Courtesy of The Dikeou Collection. Photo: Todd Johnson


David Benjamin Sherry, Earth Changes at Artpace

Finally, we swung by the McNay to see Vincent Valdez‘s new works, which are intensely autobiographic and melancholic. The conceptual heart of the exhibition are a series of works dedicated to a high school friend of Valdez who returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and struggled to adjust to civilian life. A video of a flag-draped coffin hovering through city streets as a fallen soldier haunting the city is particularly moving.


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