South Town and Blue Star scene is coming ever more close to bein an art district. Sort of the Texas So-Ho

Created Tuesday, 08 March 2011 02:04

Blue Star and South Town

So, after we scoped out the elaborate series of reenactor events on Alamo Plaza last weekend – uniforms and long rifles and cannon -oh-my! – we decided to venture into South Town and check out anything interesting going on at the Blue Star Arts Complex . . . which since it was the day after First Friday – not very much. It had been simply years since I had reason to go to the Blue Star. I don’t recall what took me there that time; either responding to an advertisement for a job opening (possible) or trying to sell someone advertising space in a little arts publication that I was working for at the time (also possible).

Anyway, it’s been a while, and the whole South Town and Blue Star scene is coming ever more close to being an art district. Think of it as a sort of Texas So-Ho/Tribeca, with repurposed industrial buildings and renovated cottages of a historical nature all mixed together along the banks of the lower San Antonio River in the shade of the Pioneer Flour Mill towers. After all, the area is wedged between historical downtown and equally historical King William, so why the heck not?

South Town looks to have gotten the right proportion in the mix – just enough gentrification and upper-crust establishments to be fairly safe, and enough shabby decrepitude to be cheap and interesting. And if you have an arty section of town, it has to be cheap enough that artists can afford to live there and freelance artists and writers are not (ahem) often generously remunerated for the exercise of their art.

Remember the guys in La Boheme? Four guys, sharing an attic in Paris, hocking their overcoats for food and burning their manuscripts to keep warm – but they had friendship and fun, so at least that kind of life looked to be sustainable. And San Antonio in winter is definitely warmer in winter than New York or Paris.

We walked around for a bit, looking at an exhibit of prints and another of very modern art – which seemed to consist of random squiggly shapes cast or cut out of metal and hung on the wall, adorned with this, that or the other. Not my cuppa – but as my mother used to say, it obviously keeps the artist busy and amused. I’m still wondering about a series of twenty identical cast-iron leaf shapes, each with an identical trapezoidal divot of opaque cast glass inset into one edge. Hooo-kay, and yeah, I’m a philistine when it comes to modern art, as I suspect that much of it is a huge practical joke played upon the public.

We better liked the folk art at San Angel Folk Art, at 110 Blue Star. Yay for folk art, which transmits more of a sense of energy, joy and sheer humor . . . plus, you don’t have to guess what it actually is supposed to represent. It’s usually pretty obvious: Ray Charles at the piano, a huge folk-art albino crocodile, a set of miniature Catrinas – all dressed and decorated for various holidays and events, and a very elaborate vase with a huge flower and humming-bird, all made of cleverly folded and cut paper. I couldn’t take a picture of the piece I liked best – a very large round painted bowl, entirely covered in three-dimensional flowers and monarch butterflies; the butterflies mounted in short wires so that they seemed to float over the surface – I could almost see their wings trembling. Anyway, that was my Saturday afternoon; what was yours?

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