March marks the 32nd annual celebration of Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio. What began as an event at the Blue Star Contemporary in 1986 has grown into an event featuring the work of local artists in museums, galleries and studios across the city and beyond.
Coordinating the events of the month is the Contemporary Art Month organization (CAM), an independent non-profit started in 2003 in response to the need for a central source of information regarding the activities and calendar of the month. The mission of CAM is “to promote and raise the national profile of San Antonio contemporary art and artists by organizing and facilitating a month-long celebration of contemporary art, providing marketing support, and by organizing and facilitating public programs.” CAM sponsors several free educational programs during the month for the public, as well as an open call for artists. On CAM’s website, contemporaryartmonth.com, artist-run spaces, commercial spaces and institutions can submit listings for the calendar for a nominal fee. Artists are welcome to list their studios for free. This website is a great resource for navigating art-y events.
In addition to the monthlong availability of shows and open studios celebrating contemporary art, CAM sponsors several annual events around which the month is structured. The festivities begin with the Contemporary Art Month Kick-off Party which will be held at Blue Star Contemporary this year, the place where it all started, on March 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. There will be eats from Ay Papi’s Food Truck, music courtesy of DJ Novasoul, and the announcement of the four winners of BSC’s 2018/2019 Berlin Residency Program.
Blue Star Contemporary is currently featuring two exhibitions: Common Currents and Manifest. Both exhibitions will be on display through May 6. Common Currents is an artist-generated exhibition that takes place across six different arts organizations (Artpace, BSC, Carver Community Cultural Center, The Guadalupe, Mexican Cultural Institute and the Southwest School of Art) in celebration of San Antonio’s tricentennial year. Each Common Currents artist was assigned a year in San Antonio’s history and each organization involved with Common Currents will showcase a different set of 50 years. Common Currents artists exhibiting at BSC created work inspired by each year from 1768 to 1817. Also on display is Manifest, an exhibition featuring artwork by Wendel White, who describes his powerful archival photography of objects from public and private collections across the country as “an effort to seek out the artifacts and material evidence of the American construct and representation of race.”
On view at Artpace from March 22 through May 6 will be the CAM Perennial Exhibition 2018, curated by Canary Islands-based Adonay Bermudez. Each year, the CAM organization invites a professional curator working outside of San Antonio to put together a show featuring local San Antonio artists, as well as artists from their community. The chosen curator selects artists for the group exhibition after a series of studio visits. Artists selected for the 2018 show are Hayfer Brea, Barbara Miñarro and Ethel Shipton from San Antonio, and Luna Bengoechea, Francis Naranjo, PSJM, Cynthia Viera and Pablo San José from the Canary Islands. CAM is partnering with Artpace to put on the exhibition, which will be in its Hudson Showroom. The opening reception for the show (which will later travel to the Canary Islands) will be March 22 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
In conjunction with the CAM Perennial Exhibition is CAMx, also known as CAM Exchange, which “pairs an artist-run space from the same partnering city as the CAM Perennial curator with a local artist-run space” according to the CAM website. Art spaces from each city will organize an exhibition to be shown in the partnering city. The goal of the exchange is to increase the exposure of local artists from both cities to new audiences and to foster dialogue between contemporary artists across the country. CAMx 2018 has yet to be announced at the time of publication, but please visit contemporaryartmonth.com for more calendar and event information leading up to the kick-off.
Closing out Contemporary Art Month is the CAMMIE Awards ceremony on Friday, March 30 at the Linda Pace Foundation CHRISpark. Judges for the 2018 awards include representatives from the San Antonio Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, Southwest School of Art, Blue Star Contemporary, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Carver Community Cultural Center, Artpace, Lumanaria Contemporary Arts Festival, Mini Art Museum, and The Best of CAM-People’s Choice Online Voting. For more information about CAM, or to donate to the non-profit, please visit contemporaryartmonth.com.
Happy art-viewing, everybody!
- Katy Tuck
BSC Visitor Ambassador