Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

Artpace Revives a Tasty Tradition with the Return of Artist Welcome Potlucks


San Antonio artist Jenelle Esparza presenting at the Artpace potluck in May - PHOTOS BY CHRIS CASTILLO, COURTESY OF ARTPACE
  • Photos by Chris Castillo, courtesy of Artpace
  • San Antonio artist Jenelle Esparza presenting at the Artpace potluck in May

If you hadn’t noticed, things they are a-changin’ over at Artpace, the esteemed contemporary art space and “laboratory of dreams” devised by late San Antonio artist and philanthropist Linda Pace. Launched in 1995 in a former car dealership, Artpace has helped place the Alamo City on the global art map with its International Artist-in-Resident (IAIR) program, which annually invites three guest curators to each select a trio of artists — one from Texas, one from elsewhere in the U.S. and one from abroad — to “live and create art in San Antonio for two months.”

In April, the institution announced that it had parted ways with Executive Director Veronique Le Melle and shifted longtime Studio Manager Riley Robinson into the role interim executive director. Just two weeks ago, Robinson was officially named director by the Artpace board of directors. An accomplished artist in his own right who’s played a key role in the day-to-day operations at Artpace since its inception, Robinson wasted no time in making his first marks.

Previously only open Wednesday through Sunday, the galleries are now open to the public seven days a week (10am-5pm Monday-Friday, noon-5pm Saturday-Sunday). “We noticed we were turning away an increasing number of people on Mondays and Tuesdays and in the morning,” Archives & Communications Director Scott Williams told the Current. “The first thing Riley said to us when he became the new Director was, ‘Artpace isn’t going to turn people away anymore. If we’re here, we’re open’ … Even if it’s not during our ‘hours,’ we will not turn you away if you come to the door wanting to experience art.” According to Williams, traffic is up.
Artpace Director Riley Robinson
  • Artpace Director Riley Robinson
In addition to the expanded hours, Robinson revived a fan favorite: Artist Welcome Potlucks designed to familiarize resident artists with members of the community. Although attendance had been waning when the potlucks got phased out in 2016, folks made it clear they wanted them back on the calendar. “We had a huge response from the artist community that the potlucks were the best way to engage with the residents early on,” Williams told us. “The May potluck was very well received, and we had over 100 people here for it. [We’re] very excited about this one next week.”

Scheduled for Wednesday, September 19, the fall potluck welcomes beloved San Antonio painter Ana Fernandez (proprietor of the consistently mobbed raspa truck Chamoy City Limits), London’s Alice Khalilova and New York’s Clifford Owens — all of whom were chosen for IAIR by London-based guest curator Morgan Quaintance. While Max’s Wine Dive will provide the main dish and Artpace will supply the drinks, members of the community are invited to “complement the menu” by bringing a dish, side or dessert. Billed as a “casual evening of food, friends, and the future as we talk to the new residents about their practice and their upcoming projects at Artpace,” the potluck is centered around artist presentations that begin at 7pm.

As for the bigger picture, Robinson and the Artpace team have their sights set on programming for 2020, which marks the San Antonio landmark’s 25th anniversary. In a statement, Robinson offered, “It’s a great honor to lead Artpace through this critical next phase and through our 25th anniversary.”

Fall Artist Welcome Potluck
Free, 6-8pm Wed, Sept. 19, Artpace, 445 N. Main Ave., (210) 212-4900, Get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.