Albert Alvarez’s show of drawings and a single painting at Fl!ght Gallery were, from a distance, innocent enough. Black ink drawings rendered envelope-size. But when approached, the painstakingly hatched characters — slovenly obese, wretched, and just plain disturbed — become electric. Themes of prostitution, vagrancy, and violence pervade the work, but with a light touch and the familiarity of an artist rooted in the city’s landscape. Bus stops, empty fields, and messy bedrooms are the frames in which scenes of crime and passion take place.
Alvarez studied animation at the Rhode Island School of Design and moved back to San Antonio determined to make his living as an artist. Albert can be seen at most of the town’s gallery openings, sporting a CIA hat and flak jacket stuffed with pens and pads. Despite his para-militant appearance, Alvarez is actually very sensitive. In the days leading up to his first solo show, he was clearly anxious. His appreciation for Asian art tradition extends to the idea of one’s art as a private spectacle, to be shared, if at all, only with a select few.
While the show is coming down this Wednesday, March 9, Fl!ght Gallery is open every weekday from 1-5 p.m. Alvarez’s most recent (and largest) work is open round the clock, every day of the year — a mural on the front of Betty’s Battalion, right across from Fort Sam Houston, where anyone can walk in for a round of darts and karaoke among the armed forces’ memorabilia and slowly revolving disco ball.