I'm Nilkki Young and welcome to Best of the Beat, Hail, Orange Art Series, where we offer a glimpse into the world of the artists.
In this half hour, we're going to meet six area artists.
All have hone their craft for years and now share their talent with the world.
So get ready to hear the drumbeat of San Antonio's art scene into for the first time since the 1950s.
There is a new building on the grounds of the Alamo.
It's the Ralston Family Collection Center.
And the moment you walk in, you will see a huge mural, a painting called A New Home by artist Noé Perez.
This engineer turned artist shares how his vision of what the early San Antonio settlers might have seen into this beautiful scene.
It's the biggest thing physically that I've ever done.
And to be at the Alamo, I mean, I can't think of a more iconic piece of Texas real estate anywhere and maybe even the country.
So it's a huge, huge deal for me.
The painting is called A New Home.
My idea was to show something that might portray the early settlers as they were looking to set the new mission for what they might have encountered landscape wise.
Out here with the San Antonio River, which is in the background, that they may have come across this place and thought that they'd found a new home.
I rented studio space because I couldn't do this in my regular everyday studio.
There's three panels that are approximately six feet tall by nine feet wide.
So I could actually put one on my easel and I could move that up and down on the easel.
So I painted one at a time.
The painting is on an aluminum composite panel, which has got basically two aluminum sheets with an aluminum honeycomb between them.
The whole thing is about an inch thick.
They mounted Prime's linen on one side of that panel, and that's what I paint it on.
So it's not a spreadsheet canvas.
It's it's mounted on a on a hard panel.
They weigh about £75.
And so I'd have to put one on the floor and then have two of us go up ladders carrying the next panel to put it on top so I could paint the intersection.
I decided I don't want to chance dropping it or something, so I put them on their side two at a time so I could do that work in the middle and while the panels were on their side and then I took one, I brought the other one in.
And so that's how I did that.
And so that and that's why I say until we got it on the wall here, I have not seen all three put together.
I was here when they hung them.
I had not seen all three of them put together until they were on this wall here.
So when they finally got them all up there, it was surprisingly moving from it.
It really was.
It kind of like represented this part of me that was now, you know, on the wall there.
The way I look at art, doing a painting is like a puzzle that has all of these constraints like edges and composition and colors and drawing.
And you have to make all of those things work in a composition that is harmonious and is esthetically pleasing.
So to me, I see it kind of as a puzzle and solving a problem not much differently than solving a math problem or an engineering.
I finished the answer and all three panels were sitting basically around me and I sat there for a while and looked around and I got really emotional and I had no idea where that came from.
But I think when I finally was able to finish it and look at it, I was able to sit back and kind of take that in.
A little bit.
Sometimes one simple decision can be life changing.
Such is the case with our next artist.
Garcia decided to take a glassblowing class when she was in New Orleans many years ago, and although her class project turned out, as she put it, looking like a rock, that wasn't the end of her work with glass.
These days, she is the premier glass artist in the city well known for her beautiful creations.
Well, Glass is an amazing material and always wants to have the last word.
It's very sexy.
It can be both transparent, it can be opaque, it can look like clay.
It can look like what?
It can look like metal.
What's there not to love about all that?
And let me tell you, the first thing you make is something that really looks like a rock.
I mean, there's really not much you can do.
It's very difficult to work with.
You have all of these romantic ideas of what it could be.
But let me tell you, you don't get there for the first time.
Not even close.
He comes from La la La Habra.
He's been with us for about six years.
And we're very, very blessed to have him.
He has a master maker.
He started in the factories of Mexico when he was a child.
And so now he is almost.
He's almost 70 years old.
The way we do it is we gather molten glass and it's all clear.
We've got a crucible that holds £600 of molten clear glass and that furnace stays on all the time.
They put the end of a blow pipe into that molten glass.
They gather it like you would honey out of a honey pot, and then they roll it because it's so hot.
It picks up little chunks of broken glass in color.
Today we use the blue, and then we also use some orange.
So that's how we color the glass.
We use about 300 different colors.
And so depending on if they're opaque or transparent, there are a lot of different ways.
And sometimes we can use transparent color and in glass it kind of acts like watercolor.
You can layer, you know, a blue and a red and it makes purple and so on.
Or you can use opaque color like you would liquid tax or acrylic paint and you can, you know, work the canvas or the artwork in that same way.
When you're first starting, it's like, if you're a painter, I'm going to study Chagall, I'm going to study Monet, I'm going to study the other masters.
It's the same thing in glass.
But after the glass maker, the communication that we have, we're pretty dominant.
We can really dominate the material.
And I, we grow together.
As my designs get more sophisticated, the techniques get more difficult.
It's really a collaboration.
But my inspiration I had you asked me 15 years ago, it would have been different.
But today I'm very much inspired by spirituality, the way in which I gather my inspiration and I, you know, pray for the Holy Spirit to give me inspiration and give me light, give me wisdom, and also to really be authentic, to my soul.
Because I find that if you see my work and it was really authentic to me and I paid much attention to my soul, then it will draw something for you in you.
And that's what for me, that's my definition of art.
So there is art in glass, as we just saw, and then there's art in glass tubes, which we're about to see.
Check out Neon Tube artist Adam's Molinsky and how he not only creates art, but restores vintage neon signs with his artistic talent at.
I've been blowing glass for about ten years, so I essentially call myself a glass worker that also does neon.
But yeah, I am a neon vendor.
That's generally what they go by.
Everything starts off as a tube and we essentially have a pattern that we go by and we make marks and heat up certain sections and bend to the pattern.
Once I got into neon, one goal I did have it was to get old signage in general and just restore it and gain a collection and then one day just kind of sell off that collection.
But when it came to local San Antonio historical signs, I felt that there was a big need to save them.
That style and those designs, and especially ones that are unique to San Antonio that a lot of these people grew up seeing, because once I started getting them into my shop, it felt very wrong to sell them.
You know, the sign market's real hot now, so a lot of the low hanging fruit, so to speak, has been getting stolen.
A lot of the signs that are deemed historical, they're getting old.
Surface dress is starting to turn into bad rusting.
They're falling apart.
And that's a part of American history that we'll never see again.
I'm in talks right now with the historic committee of trying to get a hold of the signs that they've deemed historic because signs that are deemed historic, you aren't allowed to touch.
And that's part of my argument is, well, we need to get these down and save them before they wither away and get stolen.
If there's a building here that has an old sign like that on their building and they do want it restored.
Generally, we say we're going to have to do this with it's still on the building so we don't have to fight putting it back up because chances of it going back up, especially ones that hang over sidewalks and stuff like that, it's very difficult to get them back up.
There's not a lot of us getting into it and there's a lot of us leaving it.
The last generation, once they leave, there's not going to be many of us left.
And so I understood the importance of really saving young and working hard to just kind of keep it alive.
So I guess what motivates me now is a multitude of factors that are just, you know, keeping me on alive.
It's great to do artwork and other skill set to have for expressing myself.
And yeah, it's just cool to do as well.
You know, it is fun.
So many creations can be considered art from painting to bending neon tubes to music and theater to the written word such as poetry.
The Echo project, produced by San Antonio Poet laureate Andrea Vocab Sanderson connected local poets with community members to capture their story.
The result poetic tributes that shine a light on those around us.
Here's Antoinette Lakey.
You walk through the double wooden door that is the Carver Library.
Then through the metal detector that is synonymous with being in Crazy 2022 and America, you walk through and you hear that very distinctive and deep baritone voice.
He is my elder.
So instinctively, as I was raised, I stand up straight.
You look for the five, eight, five, nine.
It's simply the stance of a strong black man that sports calomel, skin wide eyes, wide brimmed glasses and beautiful, starched, broad shoulders.
Some of you would be afraid.
No need to be afraid of anything but his knowledge.
It's the Algren curator preserving the cultural legacy that is San Antonio with regards to black people.
We must continue to celebrate the legacy that they gave us.
Caretaker to the left.
There are books to the right.
There are books.
Books change hands through generations.
Story books with peeling binding.
These books are the weapons of mass destruction.
And words are the power with the ability to conjugate and to exploding meanings.
I am an elder.
He is my elder, with all due respect.
DL Grant Archivist.
The footprints that were made by previous generations and locally.
What people doing things to give us a foundation and a legacy that we celebrate today.
There were his elders.
DL Grant Lecture.
If I am an elder, then I have elders.
They have put me in a position to pass some things forward and I have a duty not to let them down.
That's the cultural heritage of this community.
He says it was his job to continue their legacies.
It is my job to continue his finding answers, pushing the narrative.
Our stories are important despite what you believe.
It isn't division.
It's us telling our stories.
The mission preserve who we were.
Tell who we are and who we strive to be.
You want to bid farewell to our past?
We aim to preserve it.
We will make sure that it's in the history books.
Prudence Currie was the first director of the G.W.
Carver Branch Library for Coloreds.
Dr. Jiao Gregg often wonders what would she think of the world, the work that he has done?
Well, as the curator, custodian, archivist, caretaker, historian, branch manager, and, of course, the librarian of the historical G.W.
Carver Library, our mother, our ancestor, says, Well done, my son.
An artist can create something out of nothing.
Their talent can take a vision and put it on a canvas in a poem or melt it into a glass object.
And our next artist takes his vision from a Texas ranch and creates detailed sculptures that practically had the viewer putting on cowboy boots and a ten gallon hat.
Grab those reins because sculptor Bruce GREENE is taking us out to the wild, Wild West.
And started drawing.
Before I could write and always it was drawing horses.
And I mean, just it was in me.
That's just what what I love, naturally.
And then that just we fed that over time.
And I started getting out into ranches where I could experience working with those guys.
And it's just been a passion really all my life.
And as an adult, Mary, we had a child and a car and a house and all those things and didn't have a job.
And somebody said, Well, there was an art show that you could just go sit up your wares.
And so we ended up doing that.
And that was what, 40 years ago?
Well, this is bronze, a cast.
We have to build a structure into this clay, which I ultimately sculpt this out of clay, but it won't hold itself up.
So we'll use a pipe and wire structure, kind of like a skeleton.
Then we'll use an expanding foam.
Skeleton that gives us some volume.
I can carve that with a serrated, not like a bread knife, and just make some general shape.
The clay then is added, and it's going to be maybe a quarter of an inch to a half an inch thick because it becomes very fragile, particularly in the heat when we're talking to each other.
And you're looking out at that landscape.
And what most people would say is that's green grass and we're over there saying, look at the reds underneath the grass, you know, And I think part of being an artist is learning to see really that it's not always all learning to paint or to sculpt, but the learning to observe and understand what what's actually out there.
It's just us.
And it's just something we we we have to do.
And we've been so very fortunate to get to do it to make a living.
So it's a it's a wonderful life.
And making art often extends beyond artists endeavors.
For San Antonio painter Rex Houseman.
He is not only a world renowned painter, but a savvy businessman who took his family's mill warehouse and turned it into a community of working studios for other artists.
It's a place where art is made daily, with the reminder to grow where you are planted.
There's a creative community of studios, artists and craftsmen built by my family, my mother, my father, myself.
We have 63 studios now and about 89 artists and craftsmen, including everything from painters to photographers to welders.
Second generation painters, third generation artists, everyone from age 20 to 82. Who came.
Basically, there was a very famous painter that once said, Just look outside your front door and there's a hundred thousand paintings.
Or as the Hans Hofmann, one of the very famous New York painters said, Get back in your studio.
The point being is that every day there's a countless amount of paintings that are in front of you.
People a lot of people consider my color palettes that I use very specific to San Antonio, and it is it's heavily rooted in Papel Picado and Fiesta in celebration itself, the idea of celebration and folklorico.
But it's informed by a very European way of painting passes on the classics.
So the painting is called The Hanging Gardens of Babylon Notes on San Remo.
The painting itself is about the daily practice of painting.
It says Paint every day and I show all over the world now.
I teach in France.
I'm represented by two major galleries, one waterfall mansion in New York, and another one a British modern contemporary in Fort Lauderdale.
But I didn't start that way.
I really encourage young people and artists in general ask the question of how like, how do you get there?
And then work your ability to either make that first call, send that last letter, or just do that little bit of extra work.
That's what will get you the opportunities because you you know what this endurance race is.
And any artist that you'll talk with is like, Listen, man, the art world is not a sprint.
It's an endurance race.
It's staying relevant.
It's staying interesting.
It's staying on top of people's minds.
And everybody would always say, like, you need to move to New York, you need to move to L.A.
They're the cultural epicenters.
And I'm like, Oh, maybe I can travel out to New York or L.A., but why can't I just stay rooted here?
So on the outside of our buildings, it says Grow where you're planted, which is very much like our garden.
But if you watch a water garden every day, slowly but surely, things will grow.
Wow, that was fantastic.
What a great way to wrap up this edition of Best of the Beat.
And we're so glad you could join us.
Now, remember, you can see all of our videos from the beat on KLRN dot org.
Just click on the KLRN Originals tab for KLRN.
I'm Nikki Young.