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It’s not every day you need a steamroller to complete your art project.
But Luis Valderas and his wife Kim Bishop, a Brackenridge High School art teacher, of the San Antonio-based organization Art to the Third Power, want to make this a regular occurrence. Valderas and Bishop are taking what may be Art to the Third Power’s signature event, The Texas Size Print, on a tour throughout the state.
The latest stop: San Marcos.
Earlier this month, seven San Marcos residents and high school students created large woodblock designs that required one for the day’s Texas Size Print demonstration at Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. Their pieces of carved wood, called large-scale relief plates, were interpretations of the theme “Portraits of Our Community,” which included the image of a bobcat – the mascot for Texas State University – a mermaid in honor of the former Aquamaids of Aquarena Center, among others. A steamroller acted as a printer, transferring each image from the piece of carved wood that had been covered with ink onto a large sheet of paper.
“The cultural center has a huge responsibility in San Marcos,” said Valderas of the nonprofit organization’s place in documenting and preserving Hispanic history in the city.
Under gray skies in the center’s parking lot, a handful of excited volunteers, mostly clad in sweatshirts and jackets, helped prepare the woodblock designs on plastic tables by rolling ink over its intricate grooves.
The event, which used nontraditional, industrial-style printmaking techniques, had been rescheduled twice because of weather.
“They’re pumped,” said Valderas. “(It) opens up the possibility for what they want to do as artists in the future … By teaching the younger generation of artists’ longevity, you can never predict how far this is going to go.”
The finished works were hung to dry and Linda Kelsey-Jones, a board member of Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos and Texas State lecturer in the School of Art and Design, said the prints will stay there for about three weeks.
Proceeds from the Texas Size Print event will go toward supporting the efforts of Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos.
“Centro’s a beautiful place to gather,” Valderas said.
Valderas said reasons for taking the demonstration on the road include bringing communities together and educating them about relief printing so that they can produce this event annually to help raise funds.
Some of Valderas’s and Bishop’s multimedia art are on display at Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos as well as a photo exhibit that chronicles The Texas Size Print event that occurred last year at Alamo Stadium.
Valderas, Bishop and colleague Paul Karam spent about a year creating the temporary public art installation, which consisted of nine prints.
“We learn from each other,” said Valderas. “You can’t create as an island … We’re collaborating and creating future collaborations. We’re also educating artists of various experiences and levels. We want them to do it on their own (and) grow as artists.”
Last year’s event, a first for San Antonio, helped bring the community together to explore how the merging of Mesoamerican and European myths and cultures impacted the Americas.
One of the myths featured in the art piece was the Mesoamerican story of creation, where the bones of gods were stolen from the Underworld. The bones were dropped and shattered on Earth to create humans.
Other creation ideas were featured in print, like the Judeo-Christian structure, which Bishop depicted with an apple orchard.
This theme was originally depicted when Art to the Third Power sponsored their first large-scale printing event, “Who Are We? Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?” at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center in 2011. The image, influenced in part by French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s painting of the same name, examined cultural iconography from three different perspectives.
It was at similar San Antonio art events and collectives where Bishop and Valderas met.
“There was crazy energy going on in San Antonio,” said Valderas, who met Bishop in 2011 after moving to the Alamo City in 2000.
The mission of Art to the Third Power is to keep that energy alive in the Alamo City by engaging the public in art events like The Texas Size Print. Valderas and Bishop work individually and collectively to accomplish this goal, creating outreach program curriculum for local nonprofit art organizations and establishing the contemporary art exhibit space, 3rd Space Art Gallery.
Jordan Gass-Poore’ is an English/mass communication senior at Texas State University- San Marcos. She began her work as a paid intern for The Rivard Report in June 2013. Her previous and current intern experience includes the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, The Austin Chronicle, Slackerwood and the Austin American-Statesman, among others. Contact Jordan via firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter@jgasspoore.