San Antonio is known for its thriving art scene, and there’s nowhere in the city that celebrates the city's artist community more than our neighborhood. Here are some current and upcoming art exhibits in Southtown, or nearby downtown venues.
Exhibits at the San Antonio Art League & Museum
San Antonio Art League & Museum (SAALM) offers fabulous exhibits all year round, and one of its most popular annual exhibits is on display now, with another coming soon.
The Annual Collegiate Exhibit is in the museum now, and will be on display through March 24. This exhibit includes the work of student artists attending local colleges and universities. Art professors at these institutions submit the work of their strongest students and those professors curate the exhibit.
By hosting this exhibit every year, SAALM provides invaluable support to these young, talented artists. It gives them the opportunity — and for many students, this is a first-time opportunity — to exhibit their work in a prestigious San Antonio art venue.
The 93rd Annual Juried Art Exhibit opens with a reception on Sunday, April 2nd. This popular annual exhibit includes the best of the best artists in Texas. This year, 230 Texas artists submitted 560 pieces of art. This year’s juror is Catherine Walworth, Ph.D., formerly with the McNay and now a curator at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Art. She has the challenging task of selecting the very best of those submissions for inclusion in the exhibit… she’ll be paring it down to about 65 pieces.
At the opening reception, over $10,000 in cash awards will be announced, including the prestigious Best of Show entry — the Onderdonk Purchase Prize. That winning piece will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, and therefore, a part of San Antonio’s rich art history.
In addition to these popular annual exhibits, SAALM has some terrific art on display in its Members Gallery. This exhibit — which changes every 3 or 4 months — showcases the work of SAALM’s artist members. The current exhibit includes work by Irena Bowen, R.B. Fields, Kim Hinnant, Jo Etta Jupe, Octavio Quintanilla, Marcia Roberts, Mike Roberts, Pakalia Walker, Charlotte Wyatt, Ron Keller, and Tim Olson.
The San Antonio Art League & Museum, located in the historic King William neighborhood at 130 King William St., is open every Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and admission is free
Night of Artists at The Briscoe Western Art Museum
The Briscoe Western Art Museum’s signature event and exhibit — Night of Artists — is coming up in late March. This annual offering is the Briscoe’s primary fundraiser and is instrumental to the Museum’s operations and sustainability.
Taking place on March 24th and 25th, the Briscoe will host a series of ‘Night of Artists’ events — exhibition previews; a panel discussion with artists, gallery owners, and Western art experts; a dinner and live auction; a collectors summit; an awards luncheon — culminating with the exhibition grand opening and reception on Saturday evening.
The exhibit and sale will run from March 26th through May 7th. It will include over 270 new works of art by more than 80 of the country’s leading contemporary Western artists, including several who live and work here in San Antonio.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum is located at 210 W Market. It is open Thursdays through Mondays from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM.
Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: Perspectives from Black Contemporary Artists of San Antonio
This exhibit, presented by The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture, opened — quite appropriately — during DreamWeek 2023. It showcases the work of 17 Black artists in San Antonio. The featured artists are Bernice Appelin-Williams, John Coleman, Kaldric Dow, Kwanzaa Edwards, Anthony Francis, Alain Boris Gakwaya, Deborah Harris, Edward Harris, Paul Hurd, Carmen Cartiness Johnson, Alethia Jones, Theresa Newsome, Wardell Picquet, Calvin Pressley, Don Stewart, Naomi Wanjiku, and Angela Weddle.
The exhibit was curated by San Antonio artist Barbara Felix. I asked Barbara for her thoughts on the exhibit, and here’s what she had to say: “The City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture does so much to nurture artistic talent. I'm so grateful to the City for the invitation, and for the trust and support it provided for the concepts I had in curating this exhibition of Black contemporary arts. I've had their support from the inception of the show's title, to the placement of the work, and for my desire to have a scholarly essay -- Between Yesterday & Tomorrow: Art of Our Time that WORKS -- written by Aissatou Sidime Blanton. Her essay is featured in the exhibit's program, and ties together the story of what contemporary art is and what these works represent overall.
“Moreover, each of the 17 artists is receiving recognition through scheduled exhibition events, including the upcoming May 17th Artist Talk, and individual interviews with various media. Many people have mentioned to me how moved they are by the works and how thoughtfully the exhibition is presented. And, of course, this is music to my curator's heart! I'm equally thrilled that this exhibition recognizes the diverse artistic disciplines of Black artists such as poetry and spoken word, film, dance, and the performing talents of our LGTBQ+ community during the 11-month run of the exhibition, which closes on Friday, November 17th.”
There will be several exhibit-related events between now and its closing:
On May 17th there will be an Artist Talk: Panel Discussion, featuring curator Barbara Felix and the exhibition artists.
On June 28 there will be a Pride Month Event: Comfortable in Our Skin, which will be an evening of dance and music honoring the LGBTQIA+ community.
On August 23 — Film Night — you can enjoy screenings of several short films by local African American filmmakers.
And on October 11, enjoy a dance performance by San Antonio ‘movement’ artist Tanesha Payne.
The exhibit is on display through November 17th at the Culture Commons Gallery, located in the Plaza de Armas Building at 115 Plaza de Armas. The gallery is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Exhibits at Ruby City
Ruby City, on the west side of Southtown, is one of San Antonio’s premiere contemporary art centers that offers exhibits year round. There are 2 exhibits on display now and one coming up soon. The descriptions of these exhibits that follow are from the Ruby City website.
True North by Isaac Julien: “Isaac Julien’s film installation True North is loosely based on the experiences of Matthew Henson (1866–1955), a Black explorer who assisted Robert Peary on his 1909 expedition to locate the northernmost point on the globe, known as true north. Henson reached true north first, followed by Peary and four Inuit assistants. Upon their return, however, Peary claimed the honor for himself and was hailed a hero. Henson received relatively little public acknowledgement of his accomplishment or pivotal contributions to the success of the mission, living in obscurity until the end of his life. True North, incorporating quotes by Henson, serves as a recognition of the unsung adventurer’s feat and counters prevailing notions about exploration. Julien’s multiscreen work upends the classic wilderness adventure that traditionally features a white male protagonist overcoming hardship to reach acclaim. Instead, True North presents a more expansive, meditative vision of this narrative…”
This exhibit will be on display through April 30th.
Tangible/Nothing: “This installation features approximately 50 works by national and international artists as well as those with San Antonio and Texas ties, including recent acquisitions on view for the first time. Tangible/Nothing explores how the invisible or the seemingly mundane can reveal great meaning. Some works represent apparent voids, vestiges of what’s missing or subjects not pictured– a pair of arms bereft of a body, a woman represented only by her purse or Miss America seen only as a floating crown. Other works represent or incorporate everyday objects that stand in for big ideas, such as empty paint cans representing a white, heroic vision of America’s history or a bright pink stove calling out the pervasiveness of traditional gender roles…”
This exhibit features work by artists Nate Cassie, Katie Pell, Chuck Ramirez, Juan Miguel Ramos, and others. It will be on display through July 30th.
Amy Cutler: Past, Present, Progress: “Amy Cutler (b. 1974, Poughkeepsie, NY) is known for her detailed, surreal depictions of women involved in arduous and mysterious tasks. For over two decades, she has created beguiling images that only hint at unknown and open-ended stories, inviting endless interpretations. Reflecting influences as wide-ranging as global textiles, Persian miniatures and nineteenth-century photography and engaging with subjects as broad as animals of all kinds, failed utopia and preindustrial devices, Cutler’s works are otherworldly. Yet, they serve as visual metaphors for very real societal conditions or personal experiences. As mysterious as her images can be, hiding in plain sight are representations of particular traits and concepts identified by the artist. Amy Cutler: Past, Present, Progress focuses on three recurring motifs—hair, heads and horses—to explore how they are used for different effect and purpose…”
This exhibit will be on display from April 6, 2023 through February 25, 2024.
Ruby City is located at 150 Camp Street and is open Thursdays through Sundays from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM.
Other opportunities to see local art
Contemporary Art Month: Every March, as part of Contemporary Art Month, San Antonio celebrates its vibrant art scene. There are art events every day, all over the city — exhibits, musical performances, poetry readings, literary events, 3D art displays, performance art events... the arts in all its forms. These events take place in galleries, museums, outdoor venues, studios, and other venues throughout San Antonio.
The Blue Star Arts Complex, located at 1420 S Alamo, is home to over 20 art venues, with exhibits and installations that typically change monthly. Each month the complex celebrates art with a First Thursday and First Friday event, as well as a Third Thursday event. You can learn more about The Blue Star Arts Complex here.
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.
Some of the pieces in the Between Yesterday and Tomorrow Exhibit
Pieces of art in SAALM exhibits
Some of the pieces in the Briscoe's Night of Artists Exhibit