Even when the stars align and they fall within the same weekend, First Friday and Second Saturday don’t compete but complement one another like an eccentric pair of fraternal twins. While both warrant an exploratory stroll, these are our don’t-miss picks for both sides of the tracks.
The mother ship of the Blue Star Arts Complex (1420 S Alamo) and the launchpad for Contemporary Art Month, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum wrote the First Friday book back in ’86 and still champions local and regional artists via solo exhibitions and themed group shows (the two-part “San Antonio Painters” and the all-female “Texas Tough” stand out as memorable hits). Since its arrival in the complex in July of 2013, Amada Miller’s buzzy Hello Studio has provided a welcome blast of creative new energy along with a solid platform for locals (from Ed Saavedra to Angela Fox) and Austinites (including Brian Phillips and Mark Johnson) alike. With its inaugural 2013 exhibition “San Miguel Exposed,” jeweler and pianist Susan Oliver Heard’s Cinnabar set itself apart from the pack and picked up a pair of awards in the process. It’s more of a shop than a gallery, but MockingBird Handprints is overflowing with art. A collaboration between Jane Bishop and Paula Cox, MockingBird stocks its shelves with letterpress cards, upcycled jewelry and whimsical wallpapers. If the local glassblowing scene were to elect a guru, it’d be Jake Zollie Harper, whose compact Zollie Glass Gallery (pictured) features both decorative items and functional works by Harper and an evolving mix of other artists including Justin Parr, Raygun Johns and Adam Pearl.
As owner and “senior creative co-conspirator” of FL!GHT, Justin Parr and Ed Saavedra are early instigators of the Second Saturday circus. Anchoring Andy Benavides’ pivotal complex at 1906 South Flores, the long-running gallery celebrated its 11th year in the biz with an ambitious group show featuring 59 FL!GHT alums including big names like Franco Mondini-Ruiz and Vincent Valdez. In its relatively short time on the scene, David “Shek” Vega’s Gravelmouth has become a strong contender for Best Art Gallery in the Current’s annual readers’ poll and amped up 1906’s street culture cachet. An outgrowth of Joe De La Cruz’s screen-printing studio, Silkwörm Studio and Gallery—run by Joe (McHug) and Jason (Popguy) Ibarra—spotlights up-and-comers exploring themes of identity and culture. Like 1906, Joe Lopez’s Gallista Gallery (1913 S Flores, pictured) is an art-filled multiplex but celebrates “Segundo Sabado” via receptions (showcasing Chicano artists, DJs and poets) coinciding with happenings at onsite Ladybase Gallery (featuring performance- and installation-based works by women and members of the LBGT community) and 3rd Space Art Gallery (a “distillery of visual arts” curated by Kim Bishop and Luis Valderas). Since taking up residence at 107 Gallery (107 Lone Star) in 2012, The Lullwood Group has presented both solo shows and one-night-only events.