RC Gallery, the long-running side project of artists Rhonda Kuhlman and Chris Ake, draws a steady stream of cultural day trippers to the darkened far end of the Blue Star Arts Complex. Like many working artists with exhibition spaces, RC's co-curators glean funds from their primary business — Recycled Works — to keep the gallery afloat. Their monthly exhibits feature work that pushes the boundaries of folk art — ceramic plates delicately decoupaged with vintage porn, tablecloths adorned with surgically precise renderings of human organs — work that bridges the traditionally segregated spheres of contemporary and outsider art. Despite the quality and popularity of RC's shows, Blue Star's recent rent hike has prompted a rather difficult decision: After three years of innovative programming, RC Gallery is calling it quits. But not without a last hurrah (or two).
On Thursday, November 6, the gallery opens a solo exhibition of work by Wimberly-based artist Callida Borgnino. Borgnino abandons her obsession with soft sculpture in favor of bedeviled doodles that lay atop printed fabric, effecting a collision of unruly "natural" and "synthetic" aesthetic. Kuhlman and Ake will host the gallery's closing party on Saturday, December 6, with the Last Hurrah Christmas Party.
| CALLIDA BORGNINO |
Artist reception 6-9pm
Thursday, November 6
Opening reception 6-9pm
Friday, November 7
11am-6pm Friday & Saturday, & by appt.
Through November 29
134 Blue Star
RC GALLERY'S LAST HURRAH CHRISTMAS PARTY
Blue Star is included in the city's long-term River Walk expansion effort, which will divert hordes of tourists along the edge of the King William residential district, and within a stone's throw of RC's front door. Although the process will take years to realize, Blue Star wants its residents to pay prime rate now — charging $1 per square foot of space. The raised rent translates to a $700 increase to the $1100 monthly rate the couple is currently paying for their 1,800-square-feet gallery/work space.
"Realistically, the typical River Walk tourist is not interested in the work we have to offer," says Kuhlman. "Most of our clientele is local. Those tourists that do happen to wander into the space usually leave rather confused and empty-handed. I think it is going to be difficult for small mom-and-pop businesses like ours — that cater to contemporary tastes — to find a place in this grand redevelopment scheme, so to speak. That being said, we just didn't think that staying here and swallowing the rent hike makes any sense for us."
RC's predicament is so common it seems clichéd. Pick any major city in this country. A single innovator (in Blue Star's case, Jeffry Moore) acts as a geographic pioneer, forming an anchor that draws creative people into an otherwise neglected neighborhood. The art crowd follows, pouring its meager, hard-earned resources into dilapidated spaces that nobody in her right mind would rent. The neighborhood is slowly transformed — unofficially revitalized — and begins to attract the attention of private investors, developers, and city planners. Then come the trendy, San Francisco-style "live/work" lofts (already in the works at Blue Star) that cater to an upper-income clientele. Their arrival — and RC's departure — drives home a solemn point: Artists and innovators, through their own vision and labor, repeatedly manage to make themselves obsolete by helping to price themselves right out of the market. There is nothing left to do but support what businesses remain, in the off-chance that we can reverse an emerging pattern. •