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Alamo Colleges District students can visit the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), the McNay Art Museum, and the Institute of Texan Cultures for free with their student IDs. There may be an additional cost for special exhibitions.

SAMA features extensive collections of art reflecting a broad range of world cultures. (Some of SAMA’s galleries will be closed until June 2017 for renovations.)

On view through fall is The Magic of Clay and Fire, a small but stunning selection of contemporary Japanese ceramics. Contemporary Japanese ceramics come from a long tradition that celebrates both the utilitarian and decorative potential of fired clay. Eleven pieces are on loan from Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz of Beverly, Massachusetts, with additional loans from two Texas collectors – Susan and C.J. Peters of Galveston, and Allen Bennett of Kerrville.

Intercambios: Modernist Photography in Mexico from the Permanent Collection opened August 11 in the Golden Gallery. The years following the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) saw a rich artistic exchange between Mexico and the United States. The 1923 arrival of Tina Modotti (Italian, 1896–1942) and Edward Weston (American, 1886–1958) in Mexico City signaled a turning point in the practice of photography. Nineteenth-century photography was treated as an historical document (photojournalism) or a commercial product (tourist trade postcards and studio portraiture) rather than as fine art. Weston and Modotti brought an approach to photography that made clarity of form and the artist’s unique vision the priority, establishing the medium as an agent for Modernism. By the 1930s, their influence was apparent in the next generation of Mexican photographers who used the visual language of Modernism in their own work. The exhibition continues through December 31. 

Antinous, the Emperor's Beloved: Investigating a Roman Portrait opens September 1 in the 4th Floor East Tower. This is the first exhibition project of its kind for SAMA in its focus on the insights achieved through the close, scientific examination of a single work in the collection, the ancient Roman portrait depicting Antinous, the beautiful youth beloved by the emperor Hadrian. The exhibition explores the original appearance of the over-life-size statue to which this head belonged, including the scientific analysis of the ancient gilding of the ivy wreath, and reveals the many phases of restoration that have resulted in its current appearance. The exhibition closes November 26. 

The Latino List: Photography by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, the major fall special exhibition opening October 6, presents thirty-one portraits of influential Latinos who span the worlds of culture, business, politics, and sports – from professional golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez to rapper Pitbull to Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. San Antonio is well-represented in the series with portraits of former mayor Henry Cisneros, author Sandra Cisneros, and South Texas’s actress Eva Longoria. Greenfield-Sanders has explored constructions of identity and community throughout his career. His works invite viewers to ask questions about how we participate in groups, both self-defined and defined by others. At the same time, his candid portraits celebrate the individual characters of their sitters. Previous series include The Black List (2008), a collection of contemporary African American sitters; Injured Soldiers (2008); About Face (2012), portraits of female models; The Women’s List (2015); and The Trans List (2017). Greenfield-Sanders has also made award-winning documentaries that similarly explore community and biography including Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, which won a Grammy Award for Best Long-Form Video. The exhibition runs through December 31.

Coming February 16, 2018 is San Antonio Circa 1718: A Tricentennial Exhibition of Art from Viceregal Mexico. The exhibition reveals the richly varied visual culture that was interlaced into the city’s dual origins—in presidios defending Spain’s colonial interests and missions advancing Christian conversion at the dangerous edge of empire. The product of five years’ research in public and private collections in the U.S. and Mexico, Circa 1718 tells the story of northern New Spain in general and San Antonio in particular through more than 120 landscapes, portraits, narrative paintings, sculptures, and devotional and decorative objects revealing both the sweep of San Antonio’s early ideological aspirations and the details of everyday, individual lives. Organized in three sections – “People and Places,” “The Cycle of Life,” and “The Church” – the exhibition offers rare views of the immediate context of San Antonio’s founding: Spain’s religious, political, and economic aims, and the real challenges and negotiations lived in the harsh environment of New Spain. The exhibition will run through May 13, 2018.

The McNay Art Museum showcases a premiere fine art collection comprised of nearly 20,000 works of art.

Chuck Ramirez: All This and Heaven Too opens September 14, the first significant survey of work by San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez (1962-2010). Ramirez’s large-scale photographs of everyday objects offer a humorous yet poignant perspective on our culture of consumption and waste and the reality of fleeting life and mortality. Inspired by opposing themes—life/death, humor/despair—Ramirez’s art incorporates hints of his work as a graphic designer at Texas supermarket giant H-E-B. This dichotomy of celebration and irreverence, where the deeply personal becomes clinically sterile and vice versa, is at the heart of Ramirez’s exploration of the human experience. His art explores personal narrative including his San Antonio upbringing, Mexican-American heritage and HIV status, making the project relevant to Texas and the broader arena of contemporary art and photography. The accompanying publication places Ramirez’s art within the broader context of contemporary photography through two essays. Curator and San Antonio native Edward Hayes surveys Ramirez’s art as it is filtered through his biography and personal narrative. Writer and curator Elizabeth Ferrer discusses Ramirez in the context of Latino art. Curator Rene Barilleaux enhances the publication with additional insight. The exhibition runs through January 14, 2018.

Stage Frights: Madness, Monsters, Mayhem opening September 28 explores what happens when the house goes dark. From its origins in sacred ritual, theater has always expressed the supernatural. Gods may have withdrawn from the stage, but magic and madness, ghosts and ghouls remain. We continue to look to performance to explore the demons and dreams that torment and inspire us, as individuals and societies. Stage Frights features scene and costume designs for plays, operas, and ballets by writers and composers—from Shakespeare to Lorca to Anne Rice’s adaptations; from Wagner to Stravinsky to Scott Joplin. Drawing on diverse folklore traditions and popular-culture forms, scene and costume designs entice both adults and children to explore the dark side. The exhibition continues through December 31.

Behind the Screen: Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” returns to the McNay September 28 in an immersive new installation of works from the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts. The 1993 film is a tour de force of stop-action animation that has been a cult favorite for two generations. The lanky antihero, Jack, attempts to make his gloomy, gothic-towered world brighter. The result is a mash-up of holidays, complete with tombstones and tinsel. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to discover how camera crews shot 24 stills for each minute of film; the trick-or-treating Lock, Shock, and Barrel’s removable heads for different expressions; and the holes in the Clubhouse floor to position the bathtub that carries the three on a mission to kidnap Sandy Claws. Full of warmth, verbal and visual wit, and technical virtuosity, Behind the Screen should win new fans for The Nightmare Before Christmas and for the McNay’s theatre arts collection. The exhibition continues through December 31.

Coming February 8, 2018 are Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, the first exhibition of modern, postwar, and contemporary African American art to be presented at the McNay in an exhibition of this scale, and 30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection. Featuring paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photographs by a wide range of 20th- and 21st-century artists, Something to Say primarily draws from three San Antonio collections: the McNay, the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and the Nicolas/Foster collection.

30 Americans showcases works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades and focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations. Represented in these sweeping surveys are icons such as Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Colescott, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis, as well as new generations including Chakaia Booker, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Leonardo Drew, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley. The exhibitions continue through May 6, 2018.

Organized in conjunction with the San Antonio Tricentennial celebrations and the 50th anniversary of HemisFair ’68, Immersed: Local to Global Art Sensations, opening June 28, 2018, brings focus to San Antonio as a place of deep history, local values, and global thinking. Presenting immersive, environmental experiences, installations by Yayoi Kusama and Philip Worthington, a film by Andy Warhol, and a new commission by San Antonio-based artist Chris Sauter take over the McNay’s Tobin Exhibition Galleries. The installation will continue through September 2, 2018

The Institute of Texan Cultures provides an historical journey through the cultural heritage of the more than 130 ethnic groups that have settled the Lone Star State.  

In addition to The Back 40, a hands-on, outdoor living history area, and Texans One and All, which explores the cultural diversity of the people of Texas over the centuries, Texas in the First World War explores the role of the Lone Star State in this pivotal world event. By the end of the war, 198,000 men and 450 Texan women would serve in the military alongside civilian volunteers both at home and overseas. Co-curated by students from the University of Texas at San Antonio, research began with a semester-long course on World War I where students explored the war as a whole, then took a closer look at war-related activities in the state. The exhibition continues through January 7, 2018. 

At the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures venue, 25 images documenting a trip along the Camino Real de los Tejas are on view through September 24. Christopher Talbot, professor of photography at Stephen F. Austin State University, carried out a project in 2010 documenting parks, missions, forts, historic markers and privately owned lands along the trail culminating in A Photographic Journey across the Camino Real. The Camino Real, a network of roads often based on American Indian footpaths, connected Spanish missions and presidios from Northern Mexico, through San Antonio and Central Texas, and northeast into Louisiana. The Camino Real, the main artery for land transit in the colonial era, moved people, cultures and commerce along the Spanish frontier. 

The Eagle Ford Shale has had tremendous technological and economic impact on Texas and the world. The Other Side of the Eagle Ford Shale, which continues through October 1, explores what the consequences have been for housing in South Texas communities. Hydraulic fracturing has made some locals overnight millionaires but displaced others unable to keep up with housing market increases. How can leaders use what we have learned to build stronger communities and affordable housing for citizens in the future? Journey through real life experiences of South Texas residents through photo-ethnographic images and group interviews to discover how the largest shale economic boom has permanently changed the landscape and the communities of Dimmit, La Salle, and Zavala counties. 

Little Texan, Big World features artwork by participants in the City of San Antonio’s Parks & Recreation youth centers and continues through October 29. Through storytelling, film, photography and more, area youth explore their own identities by examining their cultural, social, and familial experiences.  

Other art institutions in San Antonio that offer free admission to students:

Artpace promotes art as a dynamic social force by supporting emerging and established contemporary artists. Artpace is located downtown at 445 N. Main Avenue and maintains a calendar of three Artists-in-Residence programs a year for one international, one national, and one Texas-based artist. The artworks created are exhibited for two months at Artpace and go on to appear in private and public collections worldwide. The mission of the program is to provide artists with unparalleled resources that allow them to experiment with new ideas, take provocative risks, and realize innovative and ambitious new artworks. The projects also live on in scholarly essays authored by the program’s renowned guest curators, which offer a critical overview of the artwork made and shown at Artpace.

Students and military are welcomed free to Blue Star Contemporary, the first and longest-running venue for contemporary art in San Antonio. Located at 116 Blue Star in the Blue Star Arts Complex, Blue Star serves as an incubator for contemporary art in the city, hosting over twenty exhibitions of emerging and world-renowned artists annually within its four on-site galleries and multiple offsite locations within the community.

Blue Star Contemporary, through its Collaborative Partnership with the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture’s Public Art San Antonio division and San Antonio International Airport (SAT), commissioned Plexus c18, a site-specific work by Dallas-based artist Gabriel Dawe. The work is installed in the Terminal A ticketing area, where it will be on view through October 2017. The weaving of approximately 90 miles of colored thread of more than 19 colors suspended from wall to ceiling emulates the dynamic shape of an airplane and creates a prism-like effect of the full spectrum of visible light. Dawe is best known for his large-scale woven string sculpture series, Plexus, which reference the intricate network of nerves and vessels in the body. Each edition in the series is site-specific, with installations in museums and public buildings around the world.

San Antonio Botanical Garden at 555 Funston Place

The Coppini Academy of Fine Art at 115 Melrose Place was founded by the Italian-born sculptor Pompeo Coppini and his protégé Waldine Tauch in 1945 and is devoted to classic representational art. The Coppini features ongoing classes and member exhibitions.

San Antonio Art League & Museum at 130 King William Street is the oldest art institution in San Antonio and houses a permanent collection of Texas art, most notably the Edgar B. Davis Collection chronicled in William E. Reaves, Jr.’s Texas Art and a Wildcatter’s Dream. The Art League mounts an annual schedule of exhibitions from its holdings as well as exhibitions of contemporary San Antonio artists and San Antonio’s only juried exhibition held mid-April through late May. The annual Collegiate Exhibition is mounted each March, featuring work by San Antonio college and university students.

Southwest School of Art is an educational and exhibition institution. As a part of its mission it preserves the former Ursuline Convent and Academy, founded in 1851, as a place of historic significance. Exhibitions are mounted at the Ursuline and Navarro campuses.

Current Exhibitions:

Kristy Deetz: Through the Veil continues through November 12 in the Urschel Corridor Gallery of the Urschel Building. Each painting in the series is a rendering of closely observed fabric, with wrinkles and folds. The fabric acts as a threshold into multiple, often conflicting, layers of space and meaning. The paintings re-contextualize pop, outsider, and high culture imagery. Deetz uses dark humor, visual puns, symbols, metaphors, art historical references, and cultural collisions to play with pictorial and formal construction.


Upcoming Exhibitions: September 14 through November 12

Buster Graybill: Leisure Lines will be featured in the Russell Hill Rogers Gallery I, Santikos Building. Harvesting memories, stories, language, and objects from the rich cultural geography of rural America, Graybill’s work is informed by the subtle shifts and rapid changes occurring in the landscape as urban sprawl continues to consume and displace both nature and culture. His projects address themes of adaptation, displacement, and re-contextualization.

Chris Engman: Prospect and Refuge will be featured in the Russell Hill Rogers Gallery II, Santikos Building. In his photographic works, Engman examines the most fundamental of issues related to the human condition: the inexplicable fact of our existence, the ungraspable experience of time, and the illusive and unknowable nature of reality. Engman’s photographs are documentations of the artist’s sculptures, interventions, and installations but they are also records of actions and elaborate processes. Created in close collaboration with the movements of the sun, precisely observed, Engman sees his photographic works as acts of reverence and participation in a deep and reassuring natural order much larger than ourselves.