No strangers to the San Antonio art scene, Sealia Montalvo and Crisa Valadez are the women behind the latest DIY pop-up art collective, Motherling. Montalvo and Valadez, who began as an artist and a writer respectively, have slightly shifted gears to focus on art administration and curatorial projects. The duo embraced the nontraditional space conceived by Mark Anthony Martinez and John Graciano for their pop-up FAKE Gallery, which Montalvo and Valadez were a part of. With the launch of Motherling in January, the duo hopes to continue to offer all artists an opportunity to showcase their work in an innovative and accessible way.
Tell us more about yourselves. Who are the co-founders and co-curators of Motherling?
Crisa Valadez: I’m a writer, but I’ve always been an art lover. I currently work at The McNay Art Museum and have always been interested in working with art-related nonprofits. While I did attend the Pratt Institute for creative writing, I dropped out and realized I didn’t need a writing degree to be a writer. I now go to Our Lady of the Lake majoring in visual arts new media with a minor in nonprofit management. My goal is to make sure everyone has access to the arts —public arts are so important to me— and the transformative experience of it all.
Sealia Montalvo: Through middle school and high school, I participated in Blue Star Contemporary’s after-school Mosaic Program. It’s completely free and offers open studios, free materials, and free space to show your work on First Fridays. After high school, I thought I wanted to double major in business and art, so I went to San Antonio Community College and transferred to Southwest School of Art a year later. I attended the program for the first semester and I didn’t think it was for me. I still wanted to work in museums and public art because art is a major part of my life. Throughout it all, Alex Rubio and Mari Hernandez are two mentors that have a huge impact on my art career. I decided to transfer to the University of Texas at San Antonio and am currently majoring in public administration with a minor in museum studies.
What prompted this collaboration? Have you always wanted to work together?
SM: We’ve definitely worked together before, but not in this type of way. We went to high school together, so our past collaborations revolve around school-projects. Our friendship has been very much art-related in that we support each other creatively. It’s also cool that Crisa and I are scheduled to graduate the same year, so we are going through it all together. We also want to address that we were previously affiliated with FAKE Gallery. I was working with Mark Anthony and John for the past year. I had seen pop-up shows, but not as consistent or socially driven as this. I was featured in several of their exhibitions as an artist and worked on four shows as a co-curator. After Mark Anthony stepped down, Crisa and I had different ideas of how we could continue providing this platform for artists.
How are you balancing school life, day jobs, and then launching Motherling?
CV: I also just started a paid-internship with Centro in their Public Art Program. So, it’s a lot, but I have a planner! It’s also sad that we are still in a global pandemic, but in a weird way, it also makes all of this possible. Because we wouldn’t be able to do online school, remote work, and everything else.
SM: I just need to focus more on time management. I have no idea how Crisa is doing it. She has more experience leading our social media and I communicate more with the artist directly. We both have our own jobs and the way we communicate with each other and artists, so it works out!
What do you envision Motherling providing the San Antonio community?
CV: As a Latina, I can say that Chicano art and Folk Pop art have been ingrained in us for so long, it’s hard for a lot of people to let go. I think it’s just important that Motherling highlights a lot of emerging contemporary artists that may be doing completely different things. We want to facilitate the intermix of everything and really be a place where anyone feels comfortable showing their work.
SM: There are some aspects of the art community that are “gatekeep-y” and it can feel alienating. So, I definitely want our project to be open-minded to new artists and people that reach out because we want to make these new connections.
CV: Although this open call was simply for women and femme-identifying artists, in the future, we aren’t going to limit anything. We just wanted the first show ever to be that way just because of what it meant for us.
SM: It’s meant to go along with our theme and mission statement.
When asked if they were excited and ready for Motherling’s first pop-up on Friday, February 12th outside of Southtown Art Gallery, they nodded and shared the extremely positive response to their launch announcement and open call. With over 40 responses to their open call, Loveforms will showcase works by Andrea Alferslefen, Antonia Parish, Ashleigh Valentina Garza, Brooke Hood, Catherine Paul, Chandler Hayden, Connie Chapa, Daphne Villanueva, Elena Caballero, Flor Moser, Flor Ameira, Gabi Magaly, Kat Cadena, Kayla Matta, Mace Mefferd, Marihposa, Maya Perkins, Priyanka Chaudhary, and Rebekah Hurst. Motherling taps into their network to host some of our local favorite vendors Breakfast Friend, Fruity Poms, Cash & Cam, and Scents by Salvaje. And, of course, the evening wouldn’t be complete without DJ Naiti Gal. Despite the continuous pandemic, they feel confident that folks will stop by and show support. For those planning to attend, make sure to wear your masks and respect social distancing guidelines.
The conversation was condensed and edited for clarity.