Arts » Arts Etc.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

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It is impossible to ignore the recent shift in Blue Star Art Space's programming. In the last few months, each exhibition has been a visibly resolute step in the evolution of the organization. Interim Director Lawrence Miller, former executive director of ArtPace, is the fulcrum of Blue Star's redefinition. As part of his agenda, Miller is spearheading a committee whose laborious task is to provide intensive therapy for a complex entity long afflicted by an identity crisis. This ad hoc committee, which includes the executive directors of ArtPace, the Southwest School of Art and Craft, San Antonio Museum of Art, and the McNay, faces the problem of establishing Blue Star's new mission and giving it a role in terms of our current arts community.

"The ideals that Blue Star was founded on and the subsequent changes since Jeffry Moore `Blue Star's original director` resigned, have left the public with a vague notion of the organization's purpose," explains Miller. "SAMoA and the McNay are both working toward more contemporary programming, but basically their principal purpose remains object-centric. That's their job: to collect, preserve, and interpret. ArtPace is also very specialized, very good at what it does, and artist-centric. To us that seemed to dictate that the role of Blue Star within the dialogue of contemporary art in San Antonio was to become an exhibition-centric space, and to really focus on making first-rate exhibitions."

Blue Star's capacity as a contemporary arts organization need not end at the city limits. The organization is part of a network of non-profits that crisscrosses the globe. In keeping with this loose sense of community, the committee recently traveled the state, visiting arts organizations in Houston, Austin, and Dallas-Ft. Worth to determine the identity and role of Blue Star's statewide sister organizations within their respective communities.

"The consensus that came out of that effort," says Miller, "was the notion that Blue Star needs to become a smart, thinking space, where real issues that affect artists and patrons become a dialogue — whether a dialogue about the exhibition itself or issues as timely as how September 11 is changing artistic practice in this country. Blue Star is hosting a discussion on that November 27. Another area people have been asking Blue Star to investigate is experimental film and video and the current micro-cinema movement. That kind of programming should certainly be part of any contemporary art center's mission. We definitely have the space to implement a multi-layered, tightly curated program, as well as schedule festivals, all coupled with an open dialogue."

Mission statements gathered from sister organizations will help the committee hammer out a draft that includes a long-term programming objective. The committee will then put that draft to the test through artist and member forums, and a neighborhood discussion. Feedback will help define Blue Star's new public persona. "In the meantime," says Miller, "we will continue to work toward stabilizing the organization and physically making the space a more safe and professional environment to work in."

The art space is currently undergoing construction while the committee actively seeks more funding for future operations. Although the committee is not openly speculating on a specific time frame, it hopes to hire a permanent executive director. With Miller's plan entirely in place, the new director should have a turnkey position; a job rather than an insurmountable task.

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