Igrid Leyva una frontera es un frontera
Igrid Leyva's una frontera es un frontera Credit: Courtesy / Contemporary Art Month

Since its humble beginnings as a single Southtown-centric show in 1986, Contemporary Art Month (CAM) has blossomed into a month-long art onslaught that combines local exhibitions, artsy soirées, and other arts-focused events under its increasingly large umbrella.

Each March, under the direction of its namesake nonprofit organization, local artists, galleries, arts institutions, and other creatives are invited to plan shows, exhibits, and other events. CAM puts out an open call for submissions, with a mid-February deadline, and for a nominal fee, these events can be listed as a part of the official CAM calendar.

As of Tuesday, the CAM calendar for 2019 featured more than 125 events. CAM also puts on several events of its own, such as CAM Kickoff, CAM Perennial, CAMx, and the CAMMIE Awards.

The CAM Perennial exhibit in particular has proven popular ever since its inception in 2012. In an effort “to foster dialogue and opportunities beyond San Antonio,” CAM Perennial partners with a different city each year, inviting a guest curator from the selected locale to put together an exhibition that features the work of artists from San Antonio and the partner city.

Past partners have included Dallas, Houston, Mexico City, New Orleans, Miami, and the Canary Islands. The resulting exhibits, as diverse as the selection of cities, serve to introduce locals to artists from other cities and outside perspective to the San Antonio art scene.

This year’s partner city is the El Paso-Juárez borderplex, and its curator is Kevin Burns, an education and curatorial associate at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Roberta Hassele, CAM’s executive director, told the Rivard Report that Burns, who was selected at the culmination of the planning process that begins each year right after CAM’s conclusion, has been “very thoughtful about his decisions and approached the curatorial process with respect and care.” She described the exhibit he has curated, cryptically entitled Ghostly Demarcations, as “ thought-provoking, and beautiful.”

As is the case with all CAM Perennial curators, Burns was given complete creative control to select artists, works, and themes. He began the process of creating an exhibition from scratch by visiting more than 20 studios in San Antonio. At this initial stage in the process, Burns said, he had no theme in mind and was simply looking to see what artists were focusing on.

During these and more studios visits in El Paso and Juárez Burns said he “noticed a lot of artists were working on or addressing themes of societal structures or even personal hierarchies or structures like family.”

Audrey LeGalley Girlhood Scary
Audrey LeGalley’s Girlhood Scary

“Whether it’s very large scale, like at the cosmic level, or very small scale, like family, many artists were concerning themselves with structures of meaning,” Burns said.

From there, “the theme organically grew from the artists’ work and practice,” he said.

The exhibition’s title, Burns said, is “meant to be general and imply that separations in these structures or understandings of the world are often ghostly or unclear.”

“You’ll see in the show how the artists have sometimes very clear overlap, but other times approach the same subject and come to a different realization,” he said.

As far as intended viewer take home, Burns said “it’s always an important practice and process to question the way the world is, and continue to critique what’s happening around you. Whether it is personal or political, whether you consider yourself an artist or not, it is important to everyday life.”

Burns selected four San Antonio artists (Amada Miller, Barbara Miñaro, Audrey LeGalley, and Katie Pell) and four El Paso-Juárez artists (Terri Bauer, Kim Bauer, Ingrid Leyva, and two-person collective Animales de Poder) for an exhibit that, in terms of medium, runs the gamut from prints, collages, photographs, and drawings to installations, textiles, and ceramics.

CAM Perennial 2019, which is hosted by Blue Star Contemporary for the first time, will open on Friday, March 1, with a reception from 6-9 p.m, and run through May 5.

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James Courtney

James Courtney is a freelance arts and culture journalist in San Antonio. He also is a poet, a high school English teacher and debate coach, and a proud girl dad.