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Blue Star Contemporary Art Center's annual Arts & Eats is arguably the most polished of the city's wine-and-dine galas. The bigtop in the parking lot is ringed with two dozen restaurant booths and numerous liquor dispensers, and the auction inside the gallery is filled with work by local artists. Attendees tend to leave giddy, sated, and a little richer in the art department. Success hasn't stopped Blue Star from tinkering with the event a little each year. Gone in 2004 is the "exclusive" back party room in which vodka flowed like the Columbia River. New this year is the art. Rather than solicit donations of existing work (which some artists felt devalued their work), Blue Star doled out 16-by-20 inch canvasses to any willing artist (who received two tickets to the $150 event). The one rule was that the final work could not exceed the dimensions of the original canvas, and the wide variety of pieces that were returned to the gallery this week mostly complied.

Within those confines the work varies tremendously, from deconstructionist sculpture to collage to photography to plain old painting. All of the pieces will be sold for $300 plus tax, whether it's a Ken Little (and you won't know for sure 'til you've paid the price; you have to shop based on affinity instead of appellation) or a first-year art student. It's an interesting democratizing approach that, for the most part, drew new work (some photographers and painters mounted an existing piece in a new frame), and encouraged a lot of artists to experiment outside of their usual vein (a figural painter and an abstract expressionist collaborated on a found canvas, for instance). As you might expect from an open call that garnered more than 200 responses, the quality of the work ranges from godawful to brilliant but, then again, the point of this show is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Arts & Eats Gala is from 7-10:30pm Thursday, October 21 at 116 Blue Star. Tickets may be purchased at the door. For more information, call 227-6960.

Don't spend all your cash at Blue Star. For $75 you can support the ongoing Cultural Collaborative, a city-wide effort by the Office of Cultural Affairs to come up with a new cultural plan for the city that will get real funding. Hair Ball 2004 features food by Ácenar, music by Dos Generaciones and Hyperbubble, and celebrities in wigs, all at the posh Ácenar perch on the banks of the San Antonio River Walk. For tickets and info, call 207-6960.

Deadlines

Francis Colpitt, Chair of the UTSA art department, is the juror for the 12th Annual Hand-pulled Prints International Juried Printmaking Show, sponsored by StoneMetal Press and on display at Joan Grona Gallery March 31-April 30, 2005. More than $1,000 in cash prizes and a special solarplate prize will be awarded. Entries ($10/slide) are due no later than December 13. For a prospectus, send a #10 SASE to StoneMetal, 1420 S. Alamo #104, San Antonio, Texas 78210.

Casting a wider media net, the brand spankin' new Texas Biennial recognizes all contemporary visual art forms from across the state. The Austin-based Biennial is sponsored by Bolm Studios, Camp Fig, Dougherty Arts Center, Eastside Artist Coop, and Gallery Lombardi, which will jointly show the selected works. San Antonio artist and Sala Diaz director Hills Snyder is one of the dashing dozen statewide jurors. A cool grand will go to best in show, and other cash prizes will be awarded. Postmark deadline for submissions ($30 for up to three images; $5 each additional) is December 31. For more information, visit www.texasbiennial.com or e-mail info@texasbiennial.com.

Compiled by Elaine Wolff


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