Butterflies, braceros, and Berlin are but three of the factors that creatively coalesce in a quartet of fall exhibitions at Blue Star Contemporary (BSC).
Organized by San Antonio-born curator Risa Puleo and first presented at Omaha’s Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, the sprawling group show “Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly” brings together a diverse assortment of works (from found-object assemblages to repurposed quilts) created by 38 individuals, including locally familiar names such as Margarita Cabrera, Jose Villalobos, Sarah Castillo, Joe Harjo and Mark Menjivar. Split between BSC and the Southwest School of Art, “Monarchs” takes a metaphorical approach to its namesake butterfly, referencing its migratory path alongside divisive contemporary issues like the looming threats of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Both alums of BSC’s Berlin Residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanian, Texas artists Jesse Amado and Adriana Corral are no strangers to the San Antonio art world and have another resume notch in common via Artpace’s International Artist-in-Residence program. With “Gesamtkunstwerk” (a German term for “a work of art that synthesizes many different modes, things, ideas, images and styles”), San Antonio-based Amado opens a window into his Berlin experiences in the form of a symbolic tableau inspired by Dutch Renaissance paintings. Known for arresting, research-based installations exploring heavy subject matter (including human rights violations, border violence and “erased historical narratives”), Houston-based Corral created “Unearthed: Desenterrado” as part of the far-reaching collaboration “For Freedoms: 50 State Initiative.” Now installed on BSC’s roof, the conceptual billboard depicts a white flag embroidered with a Mexican gold eagle and an American bald eagle “with claws engaged” — a direct reference to the troubling role the border town of Socorro, Texas, and its Rio Vista Farm played in the Bracero Program that brought millions of Mexican workers into the U.S. between 1942 and 1964.
Guest-curated by former San Antonio resident David Rubin, “Color of Confusion” combines three “community-oriented, socially engaged” videos (Alamo, Skintone and Color) that French artist Sylvie Blocher created with a focus on “themes relevant to the people of San Antonio.” In addition to opening receptions on First Thursday and Friday, BSC’s fall offerings pack in a number of public programs, including a “Community Engagement: The Intersection of Art and Activism” panel discussion between Blocher, Rubin, Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark and Rolando Briseño (1-3pm Sat, Oct. 6), a “For Freedoms: 50 State Initiative” Town Hall discussion with Corral and guests (1-3pm Sat, Oct. 20) and a Monarchs Program led by members of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (6-8pm Wed, Nov. 28).
Free, opening receptions 7-10pm Thu Oct 4-Fri Oct 5, on view 10am-8pm Thu-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat-Sun through Jan. 6, 2019, Blue Star Contemporary, 116 Blue Star, (210) 227-6960, bluestarcontemporary.org.
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