#SXSan Anto: art-lover Chris Davila's rolling answer to SXSW

Earlier this month when thousands were obsessing over the dizzying music portion of SXSW, local arts advocate Chris Davila turned a box truck into a mobile gallery and bravely drove it to an overcrowded Austin. A UTSA graduate with a passion for pickles and playing air tambourine, Davila hosts the interview segment Chris’ Connection on the Office of Cultural Affairs’ monthly webisode SA Arts Beat.

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Among the stops Davila made during the festival was the 3rd Annual Fiesta Popular, “a positive Latino and hip-hop showcase” designed to make live music accessible and enjoyable to everyone. Held at a community center in Northeast Austin, the decidedly off-the-map “People’s Party” was not an official SXSW event, but Piñata Protest, Bombasta, Los de Esta Noche, and Sexto Sol were all on the bill to represent a town south of Austin.

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Even before Davila had put on the finishing touches, people were climbing aboard her gallery on wheels. Noticing the unique acoustics inside, one girl knelt down and started drumming on her knees. “Someone should perform in here,” she suggested. Davila agreed, wishing aloud that “Techjano” performance artist Jimmy James Canales had made the trip.

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While the whole mobile gallery concept came together quickly and without much warning, Davila assembled a well-curated exhibit representing an impressive roster of SA artists selling affordable contemporary art: paintings by José Sotelo ($40-$1,200), lotería-themed prints by David Reyes ($20), luchador-inspired aerosol paint cans by David Almaguer ($5-$10), drawings and paintings by Albert Alvarez ($200-$300), stenciled portraits by Daphid Arts ($60-$120), fabric flowers and bird brooches by Sarah Castillo ($10), paintings (including the crowd-pleasing Spring Break ’98 — not for sale) by Louie Chavez, prints and photographs by Mari Hernandez ($30-$100), T-shirts and drawings by Vincent Valdez ($15-$400), prints and paintings by Jung Hee Mun ($100-$500), a resin pistol by Raul Castellanos ($100), photographs and prints by Enrico Salinas ($20-$150), and Latin-flavored 50-gallon Warholian soup cans by Avi Avalos ($500). With prices written on bits of blue painters tape and works leaning against the walls of the truck, hanging in glassine bags, and spilling out into the parking lot, #SXSan Anto — a 16-foot gallery fueled by Twitter and Facebook — was one of the coolest, most refreshing “shows” we saw at SXSW.

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