A Work in Progress

I found it interesting that this past Tuesday we had the opportunity to speak to artists in their natural habitat. At Artpace in San Antonio, our class walked into a gallery in progress as they all worked vigorously to complete their works of art that would belong to the space for a couple of months. It is easy to go to a gallery, ponder the art, and come to ones own conclusion of what a piece may mean, or how it expresses a train of thought. A viewer comes to assume what the artist was trying to convey or what their inspiration might’ve been, however at Artpace we got to hear about each individual artist in what they were doing, how they were doing it, and where they drew inspiration from. 

It’s the interaction of thought; the relationship between people and art that develops over time that i find very interesting. The function of art, what the artist is trying to do or express through it, is very thought provoking. When looking at artworks, a viewer asks him or herself why the work looks the way it does, but in this case we didn’t have to really ponder the exchange of ideas from the brain to canvas. In each gallery we had three separate people working in their spaces and got to talk about what they were doing. 

One artist spoke of the temporal value of her works because she likes to see what it can do in an experimental aspect with falling water colors on a set of canvases. Another artist expressed her love for the diversity of people in her works that show a conglomeration of different individuals. Lastly, our final artist discussed time and material value, history and the present running parallel with her gallery space. Let these be prime examples of how expansive creativity spreads out in artists who try to bring to life what they think and feel through their art. 

Its a testimony to how different they are from one another. It was a rare opportunity to get that chance to talk to the artists and see the behind the scenes look of a mess of tools, paints and materials scattered in a chaotic, cluster mass prior to the opening night this thursday.


In Support of Sala Diaz

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As a San Antonio native, Tuesday evening felt like I was coming back home after being away for a very long time. I had never been to Sala Diaz, nor had I heard of it before being introduced (which is pretty typical when there are looming institutions like the Mcnay or SAMA to distract you from little gems like this). Sala Diaz is a nonprofit that exhibits contemporary art in a small one bedroom home in downtown San Antonio. And unless you knew it functioned as a gallery, you’d think it was a home just like any that surround it.

Walking up to the house, we were invited to share a drink with the artist, Buster Graybill and the curators of the show. While 8-10 people walked through the exhibition (because that’s all who could comfortably fit inside) Buster began to explain his works.


He utilizes materials and objects that are often overlooked in observance of the rural landscape that he grew up around. After everyone had made it through the space, he asked us to guess what the “paintings” on the walls were made from, assuming none of us remembered what ugly folding lawn chairs looked like anymore. He explained his method in making these “cheap” materials into art that was beautiful to him because of its history or nostalgia.


While he does struggle with “faking” found objects or “retro” materials in creating his works, it’s refreshing to see and hear truth in intentionality. He creates work that is inspired by the mundane, by nostalgia and a rural setting, which is something most of us can relate to in some way or another.

After my experience Tuesday night I can say that Sala Diaz is a venue that is worth visiting at least once, or every Saturday of your life. It’s truly an experience that can only be felt, which is why I’ve tried to incorporate as many photos as possible in this post, at this point I feel like my words will only fall short. So whether it’s for an encounter with an experimental art setting, for a feeling of comfort in institution, for kind people, or in support of the many local galleries that San Antonio has to offer, please take the time to visit.


-Kaytlin Esparza

Art in Texas

I think our class got much more out of our visit to San Antonio than we did in Austin. Artpace is a great space with a fantastic program. It was awesome to have a chance to talk with artist as they where still working on their pieces for the show. I think it gave the Art History majors in our class a good look into the variation of processes and work styles of different artist. It was also nice to see how the residency programs function and all the resources allocated to the artist. It also seems like a great opportunity for Texas artist as you can apply rather than being chose by the curator and one of the residents is always a Texas based artist (because we are the best). I also enjoyed to see how they were working with the local community, as we had a group of high school students with us as well. It was my second time visiting Artpace and enjoyed it as much if not more than my first visit. I also really enjoy Sala Diaz because of its grassroots feel. It was refreshing to go to an artist run space rather than the multi million dollar galleries we are used to thinking about when we view art. I found it a much more interesting space than big medium in Austin. I feel like it broke the model of the gallery, it was much more relaxed and approachable. I also really enjoyed hearing Buster Graybill talk as I come from a similar background of working in the country and took away a lot from his ideas about creating art and not being limited by your available materials. 1476998964015.jpeg

Dylan Draper

Sala Diaz

I’m continuously impressed with San Antonio’s art scene. From the McNay, to ArtPace, to (what I’m writing about) Sala Diaz. The skill and dedication it takes to run these galleries is impressive.

Driving to Sala Diaz, I had a certain expectation in my head of what it would look like, even after checking out its website. I parked across the street from two identical houses, knowing one of them was where we were supposed to be meeting. It immediately put a different mood on what I prepared myself to see. The house – and the gallery itself is a legitimate one-bedroom house – is white washed, inside and out, transforming into a frame for the art it holds. This is no Guggenheim Bilbao, a destination for its architecture alone.

Before even seeing what’s inside, we met the artist, Buster Graybill. Seeing him, with a lumberjack beard and jeans, put an idea of what I was going to see –there was going to be no frilly, brittle, lace work of a sculpture here. Noticing the exhibition’s name, Recreational Modernism, on the front window enforced this thought.

The focus is entirely on the mixed-media work that takes up the vast majority of the room. It stands on a pedestal of lime green milk crates held together with bungee ties. The sculpture is hard to describe without context. You’re drawn in by its contradictions. It’s a tangled black mass of solidness and yet still remains weightless, evidenced by its support of milk crates. It’s been stabbed with bright green arrows with enough force that there is only a few inches before fletching shows. There is familiarity with all the materials Graybill uses, even if they aren’t completely recognizable. After a few moments’ consideration, I decided that the main structure of this sculpture must be reshaped from a high quality pool float. As a college student, I’m pretty sure I could recognize a milk crate blindfolded.

His other works throughout the three small rooms of the gallery are similar to this. Some are smaller, more intimate versions of the first work, replacing arrows with neon fishing lures. Others hang on the wall, imitating Frank Stella’s use of lines, though Graybill walks away from academic precedence and uses lawn chair straps in lieu of paint and canvas.

Displayed anywhere else, this exhibition might need a program for background information, but the intimacy provided by Sala Diaz allows the viewers to recede into familiar materials and friendly atmosphere.


-Adrienne Hudson

Buster Graybill: Sala Diaz

Buster Graybill was a very relax and downt to earth guy. This was the first time I can say I shared a beer with the artist in their exhibition. Graybill was very fond of reproduction. That is what he has grown up learning from his grandfather. Instead, of buying the material that is needed his grandfather believe that you can always make the material from scratch. Graybill explained that we have to find the balance between formal and conceptual. We should always reproduce material, whatever we find or have. Anything that exist has another life. Each material that we use has had a history and that history is important. Even if no one else acknowledges that, we as artist should and it plays a role for us in the art world. Whatever we throw away or someone else’s trash we should bring that object or material back to life and bring something new to them a whole new purpose for them.

Graybill explained that he used to be obsessed with material and became dependent in equipment. There were plenty of times, especially after graduating, resources was not as accessible as it was before. He couldn’t create art because he lacked of the equipment. That is where he learned and realized he need to start making art of what you have and not create excuses and wait for the opportunity to come. One can master materials but there is need to find a threshold. We need to make the thinking part of the work. To be passionate but not obsessive. That is what makes an artist. We are soldiers, we are the workers.


-Marlene Gallegos

Artpace Visit

Last Tuesday we made the hour drive to San Antonio to check out the artwork being created at Artpace. The whitewashed building with large garage-style doors, natural light, and steep stairs was soon to be transformed into a gallery show for three very different artists from around the country. The first artist we met was working with porcelain rock casts, metal plated grapevines, plants, painted objects, and graphite drawings. Her work seemed to be bringing the organic world into the art world in almost any way she wanted to do. I particularly enjoyed the hanging sculpture she was making with the grapevines because it took me a second to realize these shiny abstract lines going in all directions and forming a mass, were actually just something I usually throw away.

The next artist had a really different artwork in progress with a really interesting concept, but it made me slightly uneasy. I’ve always been good at biology, but blood is not my favorite subject. Seeing giant blood cells on the wall didn’t thrill me, despite how abstract they look at that size. When she started explaining her concept though I really did find it to be interesting and wanted to know more. The idea of our blood all being different like we are and how shes bringing it together into one blended image was really cool. The fact that it was going to end up having air currents like blood moving was something I was really impressed with and I feel like will make her work so much better.

The third artist compressed scrap copper into large, thousand-pound blocks. I liked that her work played on copper being a reusable resource and how the price changes with the market, but I feel like we kind of rushed through hers and it ended up being less memorable for me.


Site visit: VAC

Visual Arts Center Site Visit

The Visual Arts Center(VAC) within the Art Department at the University of Texas features five gallery spaces. The first exhibition our class visited was Placeholder, a collaboration between Mexico City-based artist Victor Perez-Rul, independent curator Lesley Moody-Castro and members of the UT student community. The exhibition is a product of the Vaulted Gallery Artist-in-Residence Program of the Visual Arts Center. This Program brings in different artists for short periods of time to produce an artwork specific to the Vaulted Gallery space.

In this case, Perez-Rul and Moody called upon UT students, not just art students but from a variety of departments and educational perspectives to contribute to the development of the work that would eventually come to occupy the space. I was particularly interested in the unique challenge of writing a proposal for an exhibition before you have a clear picture of what the exhibition will actually look like. The description of the work, as it appears on the VAC website, is apparently drawn from this proposal and offers little description of the physical artifacts of the project. The artifacts themselves being in some ways secondary to the “collaboration with students” by which they were produced.

The collaboration continues in the viewing. A booklet accompanying Placeholder speaks for the collaborators in their absence and creates its public. Short writings, presumably each written by one of the collaborators, define the viewer as participant and give strong suggestions as to how one should participate. The writers ask: “Here are some of the ideas we held while we created this piece. Will you find the same ideas?” It’s a rhetorical question and it’s meant to persuade. I’m glad I didn’t read this before or during my visit but I’m not exactly sure what I think should replace it, or if it should be replaced at all. What do you think? Are supplements like this useful? Is there another way to ask viewers to engage with a piece like this without telling them how to experience it or what to think about while they do so?


Kate moon