Housed in a charming old home in the heart of the King William district, the San Antonio Art League & Museum (SAALM) offers its patrons more than access to the work of a great body of artists. It offers ’an experience’ — a truly pleasant one. The grounds are lovely, the building is comfortable and it has a cozy feel to it, and the volunteer docents are friendly and knowledgable. To me, it’s a terrific afternoon ‘get-away’. A place to relax; to be at peace; to escape from what ever may be overwhelming me. It gives me a ‘re-set’ when I need it.
I always enjoy all the frequently-changing exhibits on display throughout the museum, but my favorite spot is the Members Gallery, tucked away in a back room on the second floor. The work hanging there is not ‘curated’ in the traditional sense. It is not juried. It is not limited to prize-winning pieces or to the work of the better-known artists. Each exhibit, which hangs for two to three months, includes the work of eight or nine member artists who qualified for inclusion by simply saying ‘yes, I want to display my work’.
Here’s how it works. SAALM does a ‘call-out’ to its member artists before each new exhibit. Members submit requests to participate, and the first nine who respond are included in the exhibit. If there are more than nine respondents, the extras are put in the queue for the next one.
Each participating artist is given wall space to hang whatever pieces they want. Claudia Langford -- the new President of SAALM — told me “we tell the artists that the space they’ll have is about the size of a queen-size bed, and they can do whatever they want with it.” The result? Not a collection of curated pieces selected by an expert. Rather, the expressions of nine artists, each of whom is saying “This is me. This is what I want you to see”.
Each time I see a new exhibit in the Members Gallery, I see familiar names… the work of artists I know. But each time I also find myself saying “I don’t know this artist, but wow… look at these pieces.” These exhibits have been a terrific way for me to get to know the San Antonio art community.
The current Members Gallery Exhibit - CRE8TIVE SUMMER EXHIBIT - will be on display through September. It features the work of member artists Lyn Belisle, Lesta Frank, Robin Gara, Mary James, Virginia Lukefahr, Claudia Langford, Cindy Morawski, and Vera Smith. And each is using their ‘queen-size bed’ wall area to share their favorite pieces with you.
Take a look at the photo gallery below. For each artist there’s a piece that’s hanging in the exhibit and a snapshot of their ‘wall space’. And carve out some time soon to visit SAALM and see all of the pieces in this exhibit. Like me, you may end up making a visit to SAALM every time there’s a new Members Gallery exhibit on display.
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.
The expressions of nine artists, each of whom is saying “This is me. This is what I want you to see”
SAALM's CRE8TIVE Summer Exhibit. Click on the first image and scroll through to see full-size images.