Last month the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) announced that it has launched the Gateway Series, an ongoing initiative that will invite contemporary artists to activate the museum’s Great Hall. This type of site-specific activation within a museum is similar to initiatives at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, and the nearby McNay Art Museum, which hosts rotating installations in its AT&T Lobby.
SAMA’s inaugural project is by El Paso-born artist Carlos Rosales-Silva. The mural, titled Pase Usted, which translates to “welcome in” or “please come in,” features two simple forms that are reminiscent of archways. The rounded archway in the work represents European architectural styles and the stepped archway represents architecture of the precolonial United States. Flanking each archway is a repeated wave-like pattern.
In a press release, Mr. Rosales-Silva explained, “It is a combination of a wave and a plant — shapes that are found in almost every collection in the museum. The swirling, wave-shaped pattern is found on Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Oceanic, Japanese, Chinese, and (precolonial) vessels. It was so fascinating to find this intersection.”
He added, “My hope is that SAMA visitors will be immersed in the bold colors and shapes of the mural and that flooding their field of vision will intrigue and inspire them to discover the fascinating connections across times and cultures that the collections present. I want to prime visitors’ perception for the beautiful collections at SAMA.”
Mr. Rosales-Silva’s work explores the political and cultural connections and disparities between the U.S. Southwest and the traditional Western art historical canon. He also draws inspiration from the early 20th century Mexican muralists and the graffiti and mural movements associated with Chicano art of the 1960s and 1970s. Though Rosales-Silva splits his time between New York and El Paso, in 2018 he was an artist-in-residence at Artpace. Additionally, in 2022 his work was featured in a two-person exhibition at Ruiz-Healy Art in San Antonio. Prior to moving to New York, Mr. Rosales-Silva lived in Austin, where he earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and was a member of the art collective Okay Mountain.
Lana Meador, SAMA’s Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, remarked, “Carlos’s mural is transformative in every sense of the word. From the moment visitors enter SAMA’s doors, they are invited to experience our building and collections anew. In Pase Usted, Carlos brilliantly blends artistic traditions from expansive periods of time, places, and cultures.”
SAMA is hosting an artist talk with Mr. Rosales-Silva, today, Tuesday, September 19, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Learn more about the event and register here.
Pase Usted will be on view at SAMA through September 14, 2025.