A few blocks past the Blue Star Arts complex, far enough into the King William residential neighborhood to convince the first-time visitor that she is surely lost, lies Unit B (Gallery), tacked onto a house on Stieren Street. A big “B” marks the entry, which leads into two small rooms. Named for their original uses are the living room and kitchen showrooms, which this month are filled with dozens of wire hangers dangling from the ceilings. Folded over each hanger like a towel set to dry is a small handmade booklet.
“Zine library,” curated by Emily Morrison, the director of Trouser House in New Orleans, appears at first glance as an array of mobiles, hanging sculpture, casting dramatic shadows on the rooms’ walls, but don’t be afraid to touch the art. The small handmade books and magazines, or zines, are available to read on site or purchase for a modest charge — $5 to $15 a piece. They are the works of 50 makers who hail from Austin, New Orleans, and San Antonio. The dual nature of the show, both book collection and visual art, serves as a good introduction to the hybrid quality of the gallery itself.
Unit B is headed up by Kimberly Aubuchon, a San Antonio artist who is also the archivist at local arts non-profit Artpace. She opened the Stieren Street space in 2006 as a continuation of an earlier exhibition project for emerging artists. “My first gallery was in my apartment in Chicago,” Aubochon says. “When I reopened here I wanted the space to be emphatically non-commercial.” In the San Antonio edition of Unit B she has replicated the domestic quality of the original gallery in ways not immediately apparent. Rather than knocking down the connecting wall to form a single large gallery space, a doorway still leads from the living room to the kitchen, which is complete with sink, counter, and cupboards. A stencil inside the cupboard remains from an earlier show as a reminder that all the nooks may be used for art. The quirky nature of the rooms is a far cry from the white cube model favored by commercial galleries, and helps emphasize that this is space for experiment, not an idealized sales platform for eye candy.
The works in “zine library” run the gamut from copy-shop staplers of hipster music and skate stories, like “Thing Bad Mag-a-suck” to sewn signature examples of the chapbook movement such as “poems” by Dan Boehl. Most intriguing is the series “Pazmaker,” a compendium of oddities from Mexico City, and “waves without sea,” two poems by Ben Judson, each printed on a single sheet, folded into an origami rose.
Free, 3-5pm Sat and by appointment through Mar 5, 500 Stieren St, (312) 375-1871, unitbgallery.com.