The diverse work of 12 artists who call Texas home went on display at the University of Texas-San Antonio’s Institute of Texan Cultures May 3, and will remain up through Oct. 26, constituting the final exhibit of the 5-year Texas Contemporary Artists Series. These artists’ works range from stone sculpture to painting to photography, and each installment of the series has helped to complete a picture of what contemporary art in Texas looks like.
Curator Arturo Infante Almeida has designed and organized the series for the past half-decade, selecting artists and working with them to mount individual solo exhibits. Now, as the series comes to a close, he says he’s excited to bring all the artists together for a group exhibition. “This is the way to tell their stories about where we live,” Almeida says. “They each will have their own space. When you come to see the exhibit you’re going to see a kind of scrapbook on one wall that will have photographs of [each] opening reception, and the original works that they had.”
Works on display at this final exhibit are all new, and come from both seasoned artists and newcomers to the gallery spotlight. “It was a great opportunity for me to showcase local and regional artists and emerging artists, and then introduce artists to a larger audience,” Almeida says.
Among the 12 featured artists are Lauren Browning, a former NASA geochemist who quit her job to pursue stone-sculpting full time; painter Pepe Serna, who’s best known for his acting career (including roles in Scarface and The Rookie); and Franco Mondini-Ruiz, a former lawyer who paints and maintains a San Antonio compound of cultural artifacts. There’s also Luisa Wheeler, who graduated from UTSA and pays homage to her Mexican heritage through photography; abstract painter Carmen Oliver, who was born in Mexico City but now calls Texas home; and San Antonio native Luis M. Garza, who captured a year of life in Texas and abroad with 365 photographs.
Each artist’s connection to Texas is different, and the diversity of their artistic representations of Texas culture was integral to Almeida’s selection process.
“Diversity is so important, because everybody has their own statements,” Almeida says. “I was very fortunate to meet all of them and to work with them, to kind of visit their world and see what they had to give. It’s very exciting and very beautiful at the same time to share that.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public. An opening reception where attendees can visit with the artists will be held on May 15.