IN CONVERSATION

Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 3)

This is the last of the series but certainly not the least. I cannot express enough how incredible these women are for doing what they are doing — with or without recognition. I hope this feature has given insight into the tribulations,  efforts, and successes behind each artist, arts administrator, curator, director, and woman. I have great respect for these ladies who are killin’ it with great energy, strength,  and power.  

Photo credit: Sara Corley Martinez

Bio: Sara Corley Martinez is a San Antonio Artist, Educator, and Curator.  She grew up in Maryland and received her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati.  She creates art about motherhood and the body.  She has been co-director and curator of Mantle Art Space since October 2016.

What inspired you to start Mantle Art Space? “I was part of a communal art space in my early 20s in Frederick MD called the Blue Elephant.  I was so inspired to work, collaborate, and create in such a supportive atmosphere full of artists of all media, backgrounds, and ages.  After grad school, I was really burnt out. I was missing the community of my peers without the pressure of Instructors, and I thought creating a communal space would be a perfect way to fill a need in me, and hopefully, others seeking a stronger art community.  Our mission developed out of a community need for affordable art opportunities and more opportunities for women and marginalized groups in the San Antonio art scene. We left ourselves to be really open and adaptable to fit San Antonio art needs. We’ve found ourselves in somewhat of a nonlocal niche as well, bringing artists quite often from outside Texas for solo shows or collaboration.”

What have you learned to be invaluable in running a nonprofit? “It is still a hard thing to do, but asking for help when you need it and delegating when you can is really invaluable. It’s still something I struggle with, but overall people want to help and show support. In something as competitive as the arts, and especially as a woman, you sometimes have to put that defensiveness, or insecurity aside and take risks with others who want to see you grow. Also, creating and running a nonprofit, small business, etc, it’s really easy to focus on all the things you need to do, improvements, or shortcomings.  It’s easy to lose sight of what you have accomplished through comparisons to other spaces. Taking a moment and being proud of the opportunities you’ve created and taking the compliments are really important.”

Photo credit: MdA

Bio: Ashley Mireles develops and organizes educational programming for the San Antonio community. As an artist, Ashley produces drawings, prints, and installations that embody narratives of past, present, and future to explore cultural issues and the human condition. Ashley continues to focus her practice on community access by regularly organizing creative workshops and other educational programming for regional arts institutions, as an artist mentor for the New York Foundation for the Arts’ Immigrant Artist Mentorship program, and as a founding member of Creative Women’s Alliance, formed to create and support professional arts opportunities for women of color within the San Antonio arts community. Ashley’s work has been featured in Huffington Post and has been collected by the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art, City of San Antonio, and University of Texas Libraries Special Collections.

How has your experience helping out with La Printeria’s 100 Young Printmakers Training Program helped you prepare for your Education Coordinator position at Artpace? “I’ve worked with nonprofit organizations since I was 16 years old, more than half of my life – as a street outreach worker collecting data on youth displacement, as a monitor for a youth homeless shelter, as a caregiver for families in transition from homelessness, as an archivist for a justice initiative, as an organizer for a girls rock ‘n roll camp, and as a docent and teacher for encyclopedic museums. All of my experience has influenced where and how I work, however, it wasn’t until I worked as the co-director of La Printeria over 2018 that I witnessed the most tangible efforts from varied communities outside of the arts working collaboratively to support each others’ missions and goals. We had a family, health, cultural preservation, medical, philanthropic, county, and education establishments and organizations joining forces, contributing to our efforts to train 100 young people with each participant receiving well over 40 hours of printmaking education at no cost. Through the collaborations, I was even able to speak about the impact of community partnerships at a symposium for the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science. At Artpace, I work to connect our institution with the local and regional arts communities, provide learning opportunities for everyone while giving support to our existing artist community.”

Photo credit: Josh Huskin

Bio: San Antonio-born visual artist Kelly O’Connor began her career as Linda Pace’s Studio Manager and Registrar of her permanent collection.  She currently is the Head of Collections & Communications for the Linda Pace Foundation. In 2017 she oversaw the Foundation’s rebranding and identity shift to Ruby City, a contemporary art center just south of downtown San Antonio.  She currently works with Ruby City’s board of Trustees to develop dynamic programming that is free and accessible to the public. You will find O’Connor’s artwork in the McNay Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as a 36 ft mural in the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  She is currently completing her executive MBA at UTSA’s School of Business.  Outside of being a community leader, she’s a mom to two toddlers and likes to lift heavy weights.

How have you balanced your personal artistic endeavors and spearheading the opening of a new museum? “I’ve found that if I prioritize taking care of myself physically and emotionally my efforts are maximized in all areas of my life, whether it be as a mom, museum professional or as an artist– being conscious of exercising, eating right and getting adequate SLEEP set me up for success.”

Photo credit: Lucero Salinas

Bio: Owner and director of Ruiz-Healy Art, Patricia Ruiz-Healy holds a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin with a Doctorate in Latin American Studies and a concentration in Art History. She earned her Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has done postgraduate work in London, England at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Courtauld Institute of Art, and is the author of the recently published book, Mathias Goeritz.

Being an avid collector of many years has given her special access to important European, Mexican and American galleries and collections, as well as personal relationships with the artists that Ruiz-Healy Art represents and who she brings to the attention of an American audience. Ruiz-Healy currently is Board Chair at Artpace San Antonio and serves on the board of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation.

Can you tell us more about the gallery programming and how it’s impacted San Antonio? Ruiz-Healy Art specializes in contemporary works of art with an emphasis on Latin America, as well as working with renowned Texas-based artists. Since its inception, Ruiz-Healy Art has mounted over sixty gallery exhibitions and published numerous catalogues. Our mission has been to bring attention to a holistic view of Latin American art within a global narrative. The gallery represents an international roster of established and emerging artists that predominantly address social issues, identity, and gender representation. With galleries in San Antonio, Texas and New York City, New York, Ruiz-Healy Art ‘s continuous investments in these three regions and areas, have remained a longstanding signature of the gallery.”

Photo credit: Claudia Zapata

Bio: Claudia Zapata is a doctoral candidate in Southern Methodist University’s RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space, and Culture: Ph.D. Program in Art History. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Texas in Art History, specializing in Classic Maya art. Her research interests include curatorial methodologies of identity-based exhibitions, Texas Neo-Chicanoism, exhibition design, people of color zines, and designer toys. From 2010 to 2014 she served as the Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas. Zapata has curated over 30 exhibitions at the Mexic-Arte Museum and other Texas institutions, including A Viva Voz: Carmen Lomas Garza (2010), Sam Coronado: A Retrospective (2011), Death to Dollars: The Commercialization of Day of the Dead (2011), and Fantastic & Grotesque: José Clemente Orozco in Print (2014). Her recent projects include co-founding the Latinx art collective, Puro Chingón Collective in 2012. Within this experimental arts group, she develops art zines, prints, apparel, design, and art toys. Claudia has published articles in Panhandle-Plains Historical Review and the Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. She is currently pursuing her dissertation project, “Chicano Art is Not Dead: Politics on Display within Major U.S. Exhibitions.” From 2018-2019, Claudia is the Latino art curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in support of the exhibition ¡Printing the Revolution! Chicano Graphics from the Civil Rights Era to the Present.

In your experience with the Creative Women’s Alliance, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome CWA prepares the next generation of minority women to dispute the structure that’s placed arts leadership in the hands of their white, male peers? “My experience with Creative Women’s Alliance was an excellent skillshare experience among fellow arts professionals. Each voice was critical to understanding the unique needs of San Antonio artists and trying to understand where we, as a group, could assist our community. In developing our recurring professional workshops, I found out more about vital resources that artists could access, such as BiblioTech, San Antonio’s all-digital public library. There are several challenges a San Antonio artist will face given the lack of accessible institutions for display, a steady collector base, and little scholarship addressing one’s work. San Antonio’s creative community is beyond a select, few artists that have attained recognition, instead it is a part of an artistic movement that needs to be historically recognized within the canon of American art history.”

It is a bit absurd cramming all the badass, phenomenal, powerhouse women into 31 days of celebration. It goes without saying Unfiltered SA would like for it to be celebrated all year long! So why not? Join Unfiltered SA to celebrate and empower yourself and women all year long.  Thank a woman who has inspired you, share your story, mentor an emerging artist, and most importantly stay informed. Take the pledge to celebrate all year long!

Read Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 1) and Powerhouse Women in San Antonio (Part 2).

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