Museum of Art: Exhibitions and Education

Written by Randy Watson

The San Antonio Museum of Art opened its doors in 1981, and has been serving the city in many ways, ever since.  The museum functions not only as a depository for magnificent artifacts from all corners of the globe, but also as an educational center, helping people to learn about a variety of civilizations, cultures, and traditions from the past and present.

The museum began with a seven acre property, and over the years, has more than doubled its physical space, as well as its collections.  Today, the museum features permanent collections as varied as Western Antiquities, Asian Art, Latin American Art, contemporary American paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

Currently, the museum is featuring three temporary exhibitions.  “Viva San Antonio!” (April 14-November 4, 2007) is a celebration of the city’s patron saint, which has brought together a variety of representations from many countries in Latin America, as well as Spain.  San Antonio de Padua has long been the patron saint for the poor and downtrodden, and also for women looking for husbands and seeking fertility.  The earliest missionaries and voyagers to this part of the country arrived on June 13, 1691—the feast day of San Antonio—and thus, named the city.  This exhibition explores the identity of one of the most popular saints in the Catholic church, and also the relationship between our city and other parts of the world.

“The Genius of Shibata Zeshin” (February 7-May 6, 2007) is an examination of the 19th century’s Japanese master of lacquer and painting.  Zeshin painted and built works for the royal family of Japan for many years, and was a innovator to the highest degree.  His works shown in this display are on loan from San Antonio’s Catherine and Thomas Edson, who own the largest collection of Zeshin’s work in the United States.  The artist was a touchstone and inspiration for artists for generations after.

Finally, “A Noble Pastime: Hunting Pictures from the Collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation” is an exploration of the hunt depicted in 16th-19th century prints, portraits, and books.  The hunt has been a rite of passage for young men (and sometimes women) since ancient times, and was the sign of nobility and exclusivity in old Europe.

The museum is also sponsoring upcoming workshops focused on Asian art and meditation.  On Tuesday, May 1st, from 6-7:30 PM, Dr. Chia-ju Chang, a professor from Trinity College, will lead an introduction to the art of Zen Meditation.  Zen Meditation has been around for 2500 years, and has spread all across the globe.  Loose fitting clothes are advised, and a limited number of mats and cushions will be provided, but attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring their own.

On Saturday, May 5, from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM, Don Olsen will be leading a workshop on Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers.  Ikebana is very different from the Western ideas of flower arranging.  The Japanese idea consists of a minimalist approach, where few flowers are used, and an emphasis is placed on spacing and lines.  The cost of the class is $20 for members and $25 for non-members.

The San Antonio Museum of Art is in the former Lone Star Brewery's castle like building at 200 W. Jone Ave, San Antonio, TX 78215. Open daily Monday-Saturday 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Tuesday 10:00 am - 9:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm.