Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

Invading lobbies: Exposing unconscious, replenishing deserts at the Emily Morgan



It’s the last week of Contemporary Art Month; have you visited Invading Spaces II, the Hotels Project? Organized by SMART Art, exhibitions and day events are still happening at the Hilton Palacio del Rio, Emily Morgan Hotel, El Tropicano Hotel, and Hotel Indigo at the Alamo. In addition to the hotels, Steel House Lofts is also hosting art. This is the second year of the project, which began at the Hilton in 2010. A variety of curators are involved, bringing in art that varies from student level to that done by world-class professionals. Many shows will stay up until the end of the month, and half the fun is finding the artworks.

On view ’till the end of the month at the Emily Morgan Hotel are paintings by Vikky Jones and Megan Harrison; both artists are MFA candidates at UTSA. Don’t be disappointed with the single charcoal painting hanging in the lobby, the main show is hung in a meeting room located to the left of the check-in desk. Jones’ pieces are dark charcoal and graphite drawings that have the depth and tones of black velvet. Hanging fabrics and strange, broken glass-like objects evoke dreams or bits of fleeting memories. Harrison’s acrylic paintings balance Jones’ dark work with masses of white and pastel colors that figure interior scenes overlaid with swirls of abstract motifs. Though using opposing palettes, both artists seem to evoke the unconscious.

Last weekend a mini art fair, “The Artists of Ruiz-Healy Art and David Shelton Gallery” was staged at the Emily Morgan. (It’s gone now, but I’m not reporting on the show just to tell you what you missed.) David Shelton exhibited works by Jayne Lawrence, Matthew van Hellen, Kelly O’Connor, Joey Fauerso, and Vincent Valdez. There was a quirky theme to Shelton’s exhibition — heads. Detached heads in works from Valdez’ series Keep Them Headz Rollin’, big photo heads collaged onto tiny bodies with head-like trailing balloons in works by Kelly O’Connor, Jayne Lawrence’s monster insects with moth heads joined to aphid wings and wasps with wings like flying ants. Shelton should have called his show Exquisite Corpse.

Ruiz-Healy is known for representing contemporary Latin American artists from both continents and exhibiting works by major 20th-century artists like Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera. She also represents the estate of Chuck Ramirez. Of the works on view, the staged photographs by gallery artist Alfredo De Stefano took the show, or at least, most of my attention. Stefano is a major presence in Mexican photography and has exhibited internationally, including at China’s Guangzhou Photo Biennial and FOTOLOGIA 5 in Bogota, Colombia. Photographs from his series Replenishing Emptiness and Brief Chronicle of Light were seen last weekend. Photographing in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico, he stages scenes by adding a few rocks or more elaborately constructing a ring of fire. The sky, seen in different times of the day, dominates, matched to the desert’s expanse. In the 2010 archival pigment print La Nube/Desierto Chihuahuense, Mexico, a watering can is placed below a single cloud. It seems as if the can was always there, trying to irrigate the desert. The cloud seems oddly constructed, as its shape reflects the can and the shadow it casts. Also on view were works by Carlos Betancourt, Cecilia Biagini, Rodolpho Choperena, Andres Ferrandis, and Marifer Barrero. Barrero has reworked the Mexican cut paper tradition, papel picado, to form delicate white sculptured flowers which matched Stefano’s photographs in their simplicity, and devotion to nature.

Both galleries are local; you can visit them to see the art. You will also have a chance to see works from Ruiz-Healy at the McNay Print Fair this weekend. Of the ten dealers exhibiting thousands of prints, drawings, photographs, and watercolors at the McNay Art Museum Saturday and Sunday, Ruiz-Healy, whose Olmos Park showplace is only open by appointment, will be the only Texas gallery participating along with dealers like the famed Marlborough Gallery of New York. Also, Valdez, nationally famed for his skill with charcoal and pencil, will be conducting a drawing class Saturday at the McNay that is open to the public. •

Invading Spaces


705 E Houston

For information about Invading Spaces shows and locations, go to

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.