The Southwest School of art Ursuline Campus. Courtesy photo.
The Southwest School of Art Ursuline Campus. Courtesy photo.

For those lacking imagination about how artists can make a living from their work, check out the artists featured in the Southwest School of Art’s (SSA) upcoming panel discussion, “How to Be a Working Artist: Promising Paths.”

Stuart Allen, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Jack McGilvray and Chris Sauter will share their experiences as working artists in a discussion moderated by SSA President Paula Owen, on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 7-9 p.m., at the Navarro Campus in the Russell Hill Rogers Lecture Hall.

The accomplishments by these four San Antonio artists map the possibilities for aspiring artists. Extensive CVs detail their exhibitions, teaching jobs, grants, commissions, awards, and press. These long lists crush the damaging myth that being an artist is not a viable career.

Not that it’s easy. Artists can be as creative with their careers as they are with their art. Inventiveness and resourcefulness are necessary qualities when making the commitment to be a full-time artist.

Sauter, who worked as a cake decorator at H-E-B before becoming an artist, just finished a major installation at the Houston Hobby Airport, “Airport Seating (Somewhere Between Here and There).” The phrase is spelled out in giant concrete letters, which he fabricated, crated, shipped to Houston and installed with a crane. Sauter teaches at SSA and the Alamo Colleges.

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Allen used to teach kite-making and sailing. He committed to becoming a full-time artist 13 years ago, working with the behavior of light. Allen works as a consultant for the San Antonio River Foundation, where he serves as project manager for Confluence Park. He also served as project manager for Public Art San Antonio’s PLAY, which opened last week in the courtyard next to Magik Theatre and the surrounding historical buildings. You can also encounter Allen’s art along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River. His current show, “Distortions,” at Flight Gallery, captures the iridescence of giant, floating bubbles against the sky.

McGilvray has worked as an arts educator for refugee and at risk youth and with students at a rural elementary school where the majority enrollees were foster children. She often uses her personal experience in foster care in her art, working in photography, video, and creative nonfiction writing. The personal and domestic stories that she tells transcend the individual; through her openness and articulate expression, they have a universal appeal. Her series, “The Lakehouse,” is currently included in the show, “This Side of Paradise” at Fotofest and the Houston Center for Photography through Nov. 14. Currently, she serves as Exhibitions and Programs Manager at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum.

Datchuk has worked as visual merchandiser for Anthropologie and as a door to door fundraiser for a grassroots organization that tried to bring awareness to faults of nuclear power after the meltdown at 3 Mile Island. She serves on the ceramic faculty at SSA, and in January, 2016, will travel to Berlin as part of the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum’s residency program. She also runs Dim and Sum Ceramics, a small design line of porcelain objects, with her husband, ceramicist Ryan Takaba. Her work is currently included in “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art,” at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh.

*Top image: The Southwest School of Art Ursuline Campus. Courtesy photo. 

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Wendy Weil Atwell is a writer living in San Antonio, Texas. She received her MA in Art History and Criticism from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2002. Atwell is the author of The River Spectacular...