IN CONVERSATION

Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 2)

Across the board, people are continuing to recognize the importance of gender representation, specifically in the arts.  Women across the world are continuing to do things worth celebrating and San Antonio is no exception. Want to read more about the women who constantly help create an equitable and authentic art community in the 210? Scroll on down for Part 2 of the Powerhouse Women of San Antonio series.

Photo credit: Anthony Francis

Bio: Sarah Fox’s multi-media narratives and characters are created from embodied female experience. Stories of life, loss, love, and sex are told through corporeal hybrid creatures. The resulting collages, drawings, sculptures, and animations suggest a childlike fairytale but with an undercurrent of dark sexual symbolism.

Her work has been shown throughout Texas, as well as in the Kinsey Institute (Bloomington, Indiana), Field Projects Gallery (New York, New York), Espacio Dörffi (Lanzarote, Canary Islands), Bedsetter Art Fair (Vienna, Austria), Atelierhaus Hilmsen (Hilmsen, Germany) and Casa Lu (Mexico City, Mexico).

She lives and works in San Antonio, Texas where she is the co-director of the innovative community art space Clamp Light Studios and Gallery, and serves as Board Chair of the month-long arts celebration Contemporary Art Month.

What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your journey as an artist and arts administrator? “One of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made was recent, November 2018. When I left William safely at home with my supportive and wonderful husband at 9 months old to go on a residency to Mexico City to make art. I felt like a terrible person and mother at first. As someone who had wanted a child for so long, and finally been blessed with a beautiful, healthy boy, then to leave the baby at 9 months to go off and make art for a month seemed totally selfish and cold. But I did it. I told myself if it was too hard, I could quit and come back home. But with my sweet husband’s support and endless patience, with lots of Skype and pictures, I ended up making it through the whole month. I made a powerful video about the adoption of my son and had a solo show in Mexico City. I also missed William learning to crawl, and it was tough on my marriage.

But for me, in the beautiful chaos of having your first kid, your identity as a singular woman and artist blurs into family and caretaker. You are a mom first, a partner second…and then if there is time for a third you are a napping, exhausted woman. Going to Mexico at the time that I did reminded me I was a mom, a partner, but also an individual. An artist as dedicated to her practice as I was to my young family. It helped me rebalance my priorities a bit and reminded me of who I was. The balance is something I still struggle with daily. How much time and energy to give to being a mom, an artist, a partner, an active community member. Half of the time I feel like I’m doing a sloppy job at all of it, but I’m figuring out slowly and it gives me the great purpose of being.”

Photo credit: Suzy González

Bio: Suzy González is an artist, curator, zinester, educator, and community organizer living and working in San Antonio, TX. Giving attention to the origins of both food and art materials, she analyzes what it means to decolonize art and art history. She’s had recent solo exhibits at Presa House Gallery, Hello Studio, and Palo Alto College and has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Center (VT), the Trelex Residency (Peru), The Wassaic Residency (NY), Starry Night Residency (NM), the Studios at MASS MoCA (MA), and Hello Studio (TX). Suzy co-publishes Yes, Ma’am zine, co-organizes the San Anto Zine Fest and is half of the collective Dos Mestizx. She received a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant for the curatorial project, Comida es Medicina, and is a 2018 alum of the NALAC Leadership Institute. She is a current fellow with the Intercultural Leadership Institute and is serving as a mentor with the NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. Suzy holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Texas State University. Her web presence can be found at suzygonzalez.com.

What are some of the San Antonio art opportunities that have impacted your work the most? “When I was still an undergrad at Texas State, I had the opportunity to have my artwork used as the image for the San Antonio International Woman’s Day March. Seeing how art and activism could be infused inspired my practice and was one of the reasons that I moved here. Early on I had my first solo exhibits at Lady Base Gallery and R Gallery. More recently, working with spaces/organizations like Presa House, The Movement Gallery, San Anto Street Arts Initiative, and Luminaria have given me exposure and experience within the city, both as an artist and a curator. NALAC has had a great impact on my career over the last year and I’m so grateful for the programming they offer and sponsor. PASA has opened doors to me and I look forward to creating more public work within the city. It’s also about creating your own opportunities when they don’t yet exist. I work with a really amazing group of folks in organizing the San Anto Zine Fest, and we look forward to bringing the third annual fest to our community this October.”

Photo credit: Tom Turner

What inspired you to begin Foto-Fest and what advice would you share with anyone wanting to start their own art festival or fair in San Antonio? As a co-founder and one of the now (4) directors I am happy to share more about our annual photography festival – Four X Five Photo Fest. Our free fest is named for the four events and five educational talks we offer with acclaimed photographers, directors, and editors from across the country. Our mission is focused on building an intentional community by connecting, educating, encouraging, and inspiring others. We came up with the idea after chatting about having a space that would welcome all photographers – new and experienced – to unleash their creativity and enhance their network. While other photography festivals and lectures around the country usually charge an admission fee, we wanted to create something that was accessible for anyone interested. The fest was partially inspired by a struggle to network with other local photographers, having space for photography to be shown, and connect with photographers and enthusiasts outside of San Antonio.

I am a local artist, CMO of a non-profit social services organization, mother, and now wife to my partner Scott Ball who I run Four X Five Photo Fest with alongside our good friend Josh Huskin. Scott and Josh are local photographers and Jillian Huskin, our longtime Volunteer Coordinator just joined our directorial team this year. We’re really excited to have Jillian with us moving forward to help us develop some bigger plans we have for the future.

To be the first to know when we launch 2019 Fest details, subscribe to our email at www.4x5photofest.com.

For anyone interested in starting their own festival, or fair in their local communities, I say the more the merrier! If you think you have something different to offer your community that can impact them in a big way, do it. Your community needs new ideas. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, or think that someone else might be better qualified. Align yourself with a good network and a passion to make it happen and everything else will fall into place.”

Photo credit: Roberta “Nina” Hassele

Bio: Roberta “ Nina” Hassele is a Brooklyn-raised, Texas-based curator, arts supporter, and arts organizer. As a child, New York’s museums and galleries were her playgrounds and safe spaces. After moving to Texas, Nina found her joy and refuge in art again, falling in love with San Antonio’s vibrant and inclusive downtown art scene. Nina has spent over 15 years immersed in the arts community, first as a friend, volunteer, collector, and fundraiser, and now curating local and traveling exhibitions and serving as an advisor to art institutions. Her mission is to increase recognition and support for all of San Antonio’s artists. She has been the Executive Director of Contemporary Art Month San Antonio since 2012.

Why do you think it’s pivotal for the San Antonio art community to connect with national and international artists? “Often when thinking about San Antonio’s strong and growing artist community I reflect back to the Artpace Fall 2006 International Artists-In-Residence curated by Tom Eccles, Executive Director, Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. It featured the murals of Chiho Aoshima of Tokyo, Japan ‘As we died, we began to regain our spirit’; Katie Pell of San Antonio ‘Bitchen’ with her hot rod hopper stove, candy river dryer, love toaster, heaven vacuum cleaner; and ‘Hobby Horse’ by Allison Smith of New York. This exhibition was an enriching art experience for me through Artpace’s international and national cultural exchange.

I believe ART unites people, changes lives, and helps foster tolerance and exchange of diverse cultures.

The mission of Contemporary Art Month is to promote and raise the national profile of San Antonio contemporary art and artists. We do this by organizing and facilitating a month-long celebration of contemporary art, providing marketing support, and by organizing and facilitating public programs.  Since the introduction of the CAM Perennial in 2012, Contemporary Art Month has partnered with 8 cities, including the Canary Islands and Mexico City, and featured 61 artists. Many of these artists have gone on to work with these curators outside of San Antonio. Yes, I believe it’s pivotal for the San Antonio art community to connect with national and international artists and continuing to build bridges inside and outside of our city.”

Photo credit: Josh Huskin

Bio: Mary Heathcott is the Executive Director of Blue Star Contemporary, where she heads its exhibition and educational programs, guided by the bold mission “to inspire the creative genius in us all.” As San Antonio’s premiere nonprofit venue for contemporary art, Blue Star Contemporary presents more than 20 exhibitions annually, engaging international and regional artists through innovative exhibitions; a residency partnership with the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin; public programs; and an after-school program for high school youth seeking professional development in the field of art, MOSAIC Student Artist Program.

Prior to joining Blue Star Contemporary in 2014, Heathcott was the Deputy Director at Artpace San Antonio, an international artist-in-residence program that has attracted more than 100 renowned artists and guest curators from around the world to explore new directions in their work and provided a platform for exhibitions and education programs that further extend contemporary art dialogue.

Heathcott received her master’s degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2001, where her research in art history culminated in a thesis exploring the history of stereoscope photography, “Collapsed Elemental Perspective.” She received her BA in Art History in 1998 from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where she is happy to reside with her husband and son.

What advice would you give to students wanting to be art professionals in San Antonio? “My advice to students wanting to be art professionals would be, in short: get to know your community. There are so many different organizations, consultants, museums, curators, schools, artists, galleries, pop-ups, community organizers, etc., etc. Get out there and experience the creative landscape, and contribute to it. Our community is very supportive of its own, and great things happen here.”

Photo credit: Sarah Lawrence

Bio: Sarah Lawrence is a marketing specialist and digital artist. Originally born on Long Island, NY, she received her M.S. in Print Media from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her current work primarily deals with the expression of self through portraiture and reflection.

What inspired you to start Mantle Art Space? Mantle was born in the sort of happy space between ‘need’ and ‘luck’ – Sara and I were looking around at studio options and came across this space, big enough to support other studio artists and have exhibition space. The more we talked, the more we realized it was a prime opportunity to cater to the same needs we had; namely to make work and show in an affordable capacity. We had this unique opportunity to break down some of the financial barriers to being an exhibiting artist and bring in diverse contemporary art.”

What have you learned to be invaluable in running a nonprofit? “Patience! I feel like I was living in a very immediate world with pretty immediate payoffs, and that’s just not at all what starting a new business or nonprofit is like. We’re in our third year and it feels like we’re only just now coming into our own. Sara and I did so much for the first two years (essentially operating in our downtime). Working with someone that closely is also very like a marriage, we’ve really learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to lean on each other when we need to. Having the support of our board now has been instrumental in taking that next step and will enable us to do so much more.”

Continue reading Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 1) and Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 3).

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