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Jenny Rabb Faz
San Antonio Cocktail Conference
She can plan a party in her sleep.
And they’re not Red Solo Cup ragers either. As event director for the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, Jenny Rabb Faz really does have a knack for powerful presentation.
Rabb Faz is one of the masterminds behind the 5-year-old conference that turns a sleepy post-holiday rush Downtown into a dazzling weeklong celebration of all spirited libations. Though January is normally considered a slow month for the bar industry, the conference, with its seminars, dinners, tastings and elaborate parties, now sets the tone for what’s to come throughout the year.
Next time you’re sipping on that boutique mezcal, or admiring an elaborate bar takeover during the SACC, you can thank Rabb Faz for her planning prowess. She, along with founder Mark Bohanan, executive director Cathy Siegel, event coordinator Elise Russ, prep crew captain Karah Carmack and logistics coordinator Carlos Faz, plan the festivities — plotting placement for brands and spirits, scheduling presenter seminars, collecting recipes from bartenders and making sure each event has enough booze.
Though San Antonio would still have a semblance of cocktail culture without the event, its grasp on the city wouldn’t be as strong without the educational bacchanal that is the conference.
To unwind, she’d much rather cozy up for Netflix binging with some wine. “I’m on a pinot noir kick, but I always love a glass of bubbles,” she laughed.
Still, the cocktail movement and the groups that Houston Street Charities are able to help — The Children’s Shelter, ChildSafe, Clarity Child Guidance Center, TEAMability and Transplants for Children will all benefit in 2016 — make the late nights worth it.
“All of us sacrifice something, whether it’s time away for our families, or friends,” Rabb Faz said.“But when it’s over, it’s such a feel-good that we made a difference and put on an amazing event.”
Muralist and mentor
On December 12, 1989, with his mentor Juan Hernandez on one side and a young Vincent Valdez on the other, Alex Rubio put his distinctive curvilinear marks on a mural commissioned by the San Fernando Cathedral and made an important realization: He was finally a real artist.
That spirit stuck, and he has never forgotten the feeling of creating for his community. Today, his large scale paintings and prints have been widely collected and shown in Texas and throughout the U.S. in exhibits such as Cheech Marin’s groundbreaking 12-city tour, “Chicano Visions: Painters on the Verge,” and the summer 2016 exhibit at the Smithsonian affiliate Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, Texas. But his energies remain deeply rooted in San Antonio, as he seamlessly shifts between his roles as creator, teacher and curator.
As artist-in-residence at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum’s MOSAIC program, Rubio mentors high school students in art-making and business techniques year-round, five days a week after school and during the summer. He also serves as an adjunct for the community classes at the Southwest School of Art. Rubio said he seeks to inspire his students “to continue the investigation and exploration of media, to be prolific in studio work, focus and concentration, to be inspired by fellow contemporary artists and to seek out opportunities working with curators, museums and galleries.”
Rubio opened R Space (110 E. Lachapelle) in March 2011 so those same undiscovered and emerging artists could experience the professional practice of the exhibition process. “I had those opportunities as a young artist, and that personal mission of sharing that experience and offering these opportunities to the next generation of art-workers inspires me as an artist and as a curator,” he explained.
You can expect to see a whole lot more of Rubio’s curatorial efforts in the coming months — he’s opening a second venue, Rubio Gallery-South, this spring. “It will double the opportunity for artists to present, promote and introduce their work to the arts community,” he said.
Regional Field Organizer,
Robert Salcido is coming for the hearts and minds of San Antonians.
It’s no easy task. So how does he do it?
By talking to people — lots and lots and lots of people. And then getting them to talk to even more people, all in the name of LGBT education and justice.
“I would describe it as definitely a high-contact position,” Salcido said of being an organizer for Equality Texas.
For Salcido, 2015 was full of “ups, downs and everything in between.” The big win is obvious: The Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional was perhaps the biggest step forward for LGBT rights in U.S. history. But there’s much more work left to do, Salcido says.
Chief among his priorities is ensuring the city’s non-discrimination ordinance is being properly enforced as it pertains to sexual orientation.
“Being a queer man myself ... I want those protections just like anybody else, but I also see those other individuals not leading as privileged of a life as I do,” Salcido said. “There are some people out there who go to work each day not being able to be their true authentic self … simply because someone doesn’t agree with that.”
Which comes back to changing hearts and minds. Salcido emphasizes public education and outreach, getting folks to share their stories and lived experiences with others.
“Injustices that the LGBT community has to face every day — it’s one of those things that you just know is wrong,” Salcido said. “I see myself in a position that I have a voice for those who don’t have it. Until I have that taken away from me, I’m going to speak at the top of my lungs that these are injustices we need to face.”
On July 4, 2015, in response to Texas’ new abortion clinic regulations currently being considered by the Supreme Court, a massive new Planned Parenthood clinic opened in the Medical Center. Behind the 22,000-square-foot facility stood Pat Smothers, chair of the committee charged with finding funds for the $7.5 million bill.
Smothers, a former member of the Women’s Political Caucus board of directors in the ’80s and one-time chair for Ann Richards’ campaign for governor in Bexar County, has spent considerable time speaking up for some of the most frightened and marginalized members of society: victims of domestic abuse and family violence. After seeing Richards inaugurated, Smothers joined the board of Family Violence Prevention Services in San Antonio and spearheaded a committee that went on to build La Paloma de la Paz in 2012, accommodating up to 222 women and children and featuring medical clinics, a school and transitional housing.
Smothers’ political interests and the personal experiences of women at La Paloma converge in her unabashed support of Planned Parenthood. “Working with so many women at the shelter … reinforced my conviction that it is essential that women decide when they are able, capable and desiring to becoming mothers,” said Smothers.
The new center complies with requirements the Texas Legislature passed into law in 2013. Still, Smothers, a critic of those regulations, hopes the Supreme Court strikes them down. “It is difficult living in a state where the governor and lieutenant governor are constantly trying to deny women their right to medically safe abortions,” Smothers groaned. “That is why I agreed to head the committee to raise the money to build the beautiful new clinic that conforms to the new and unnecessary requirements.”
That contrarian streak informs much of her activism. “I choose to work on women’s and children’s issues that are woefully unrepresented ... controversial but essential. There are numerous other people that can support less controversial issues,” she said.
San Antonio Museum of Art
Anna Stothart thinks back to the summers she spent as a child during the ’80s at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú, New Mexico. Years prior, her parents befriended potter Juan Hamilton, a confidant of painter Georgia O’Keeffe. That was when Stothart, hired to be The Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) last February, found her calling. She just didn’t know it yet.
“It wasn’t something I was conscious of at the time, but having that history was an amazing thing,” Stothart, 37, said. “It led me to think about the role art plays in society and culture. I saw how much it helped enrich, educate and bring people and communities together.”
Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Stothart earned her undergraduate degree from Western Washington University in art history in 2005, and a master’s degree from Tufts University in art history and museum studies in 2007. She moved to Boston to work as a curatorial associate and then as assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Since her move to SAMA 10 months ago, Stothart has connected with what she considers a “vibrant and close-knit artistic community.”
“I’ve developed some great relationships,” she said. “I’m interested in figuring out what people in San Antonio — artists, educators, curators, collectors, patrons of the arts — get excited about.”
Next October, Stothart will curate an international exhibition tentatively titled “In the Dust of This Planet,” which will explore the parallels between zombie pop culture and society’s “underlying anxiety about the environmental crisis and human extinction.” It’s the type of show she hopes will engage a new audience.
“The benefit of working for an encyclopedic institution is to make those connections either visually or conceptually for the public,” she said. “Hopefully, that will draw a broader interest in the institution.”