Miriam Sitz

From roving art trucks and croissants to microgrants and the forests of Paraguay, the eight presenters of PechaKucha 11 rocked the stage of the Josephine Theatre last night — in six minutes and 40 seconds each.

The 850-seat theatre quickly filled, with PechaKuchers queuing for drinks and concessions. Alamo Beer donated the brews, and all proceeds of the cash bar and snack stand were donated to the non-profit Josephine.

If you missed the spectacle last night, mark your calendar for the next: November 19 at the Southwest School of Art. Videos of the presentations will eventually post to PechaKucha SA’s YouTube channel, but in the meantime, check out the Rivard Report’s… report on PK11 below. (Names and titles below are linked to the presenter’s personal/professional website for more information.)

PechaKucha 11 at the Josephine Theatre
PechaKucha 11 at the Josephine Theatre


At the Josephine Theatre, from Thomas Miller's presentation
At the Josephine Theatre, from Thomas Miller’s presentation

Thomas Miller, Theatre Director

Thomas Miller grew up in and around the Josephine Theatre. As the venue’s executive director, he has been working to see the Theatre through recent hard times, but remembers fondly the successes of the past. “Elvis has appeared multiple times at the Josephine Theatre,” Miller boasted, as an image of five impersonators of the King of Rock and Roll appeared on-screen. “And it doesn’t matter whether he’s dead or not!” Noting that Elvis tribute artists are wildly popular shows at the Josephine, he joked, “PechaKucha is the only thing I’ve seen other than Elvis that sells this place out, evidently!”

Miller concluded with a musical reminder à la Fiddler on the Roof to the audience that the Josephine Theatre is indeed a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “If I were a rich man, I would have all the money I need to fix this place right up. But since I don’t have any money, I am going to hit you up!”

Porcelain by Jennifer Datchuk
Porcelain by Jennifer Datchuk

Jennifer Datchuk, Ceramic Artist

With the first words she spoke, Jennifer Ling Datchuk instantly endeared the audience of PK11. “Can you hear me? I have the voice of a five-year-old girl.” In less than seven minutes, Datchuk beautifully wove together her story of family, inspiration, cultural identity, happiness and unhappiness, and art. She shared how conflict, “as experienced through issues of race, gender, and identity and gender,” is the guiding influence on her work.

“I am interested in revealing the beauty, dysfunction, and fragility of domestic settings, and my constant desire for balance.” Masterfully crafted, Datchuk’s work is at once sad and lovely, and unmistakably poignant. Humorous anecdotes about family and travel punctuated the explanation of her art. “I hope in this piece and in my work,” Datchuk concluded, “people can find hope in times of sadness, humor in moments of grief, and beauty in times of despair.”

Chris Davila spread the San Anto love via art truck
Chris Davila spread the San Anto love via art truck

Chris Davila, Art Consultant

Chris Davila advocates for the arts in San Antonio, and excels at “spreading the San Anto love.” The social media expert took to the road last spring, rolling toward Austin SXSW — Alamo City style. Her mobile SXSan Anto art gallery relocated every three to four hours during the course of three 12-hour long days. She left clues about her location through Foursquare and other social media networks along the way.

Davila also explores the intersection of art and social media with her #puzzlebombSA project. “What started out as a way to recycle puzzles has now turned into a treasure hunt for beautiful, original works of art.” For the art evangelist, using hashtags, free social networks, and the power and creativity of everyday people has proven an effective way to spread art and San Anto love throughout Texas. Davila concluded by saying, “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time and your gifts.”

Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng in defense of the $4 croissant
Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng in defense of the $4 croissant

Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng, Chefs

The audacity of the $4 croissant. So began the presentation of Bakery Lorraine chefs Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng. The charming duo walked the Josephine Theatre audience through the surprisingly complex process of croissant-making. “It takes about two and a half hours of hard work [and] 27 hours of impatient waiting, for a total of close to 30 hours for a small batch of croissant,” explained Ng.

Artisan bakeries such as Bakery Lorraine struggle to compete with large factories that mass-produce frozen croissants. As a photo of an industrial kitchen appeared on-screen, Mandrell quietly pointed out with perfect comedic timing, “That guy probably has no idea how to make a croissant,” as the audience giggled. Working out the math, Ng calculated that Bakery Lorraine can make about 11 croissants per hour. “We really should charge more,” she laughed. By the end, the chefs had most of the audience convinced and every person in the theater hungry.

From bartender - not mixologist - Jeret Peña's presentation
From bartender — not mixologist — Jeret Peña’s presentation

Jeret Peña, Cocktailian

“I am not a mixologist,” began Jeret Peña. “I am a bartender. I am very proud of what I do.” Calling the craft of cocktail-making as “American as apple-pie,” Peña elaborated upon the history of cocktails, which was abruptly disrupted by prohibition. The bartender cut his teeth at Hotel Valencia’s Vbar before moving to Pesca, then on to Partida Tequila. “I got paid to drink alcohol,” he said of his fantastic experience working for Partida, before adding, softly and seriously, “And I did.”

Peña elaborated on the cocktail revolution that has taken place in San Antonio over the past three years. “The craft itself went full steam ahead,” he said. His most recent venture, the Brooklynite, has garnered significant attention and a faithful following for its craft cocktails.

An Awesome SA microgrant project, from Jeff Mulholland's presentation
An Awesome SA microgrant project, from Jeff Mulholland’s presentation

Jeff Mulholland, Community Activist

A pop up dog park, a mini art museum, an honor system library… Who better to highlight some of the most awesome Awesome SA proposals than cofounder Jeff Mulholland? A group of innovative Bostonians established the Awesome Foundation. To date, 77 chapters exist around the world.

In San Antonio, Mulholland gathered a group of philanthropic-inclined individuals to comprise the Awesome SA board of trustees. The group pools together $100 each, receives applications, and selects one project each month for a $1,000 award. “So far, nine winners have walked away with a $1,000 Awesome SA grant.” Say. She. Ate. mobile restaurant received the inaugural award, adding solar panels to the food truck. The next Awesome SA grant award party will take place Thursday, August 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Boneshakers — register online!

Exploring coincidence and negotiation with David Alcantar
Exploring coincidence and negotiation with David Alcantar

David Alcantar, Artist

After thoroughly confusing Randy Beamer with his bio, the articulate artist David Alcantar took the stage to elaborate upon his art, the main themes of which focus on negotiation, coincidence, and decision-making behaviors. “Every decision you make is a negotiation with yourself,” said Alcantar. “[It’s] a universal and continual human behavior and …  I believe that art at its best addresses what is common in human experience, more than what’s particular; that it’s inclusive more than it’s exclusive.”

Through his paintings, Alcantar investigates and illuminates the infinite number of possibilities for each moment and each action, the way people and situations coincide, and the process of choosing one option over endless others. “When I look through the history of painting, in my opinion lots of really great paintings have this profound ability to transcend format … to create this active experience between the viewer and the object.”

Guaraní youth photographed by Dr. Richard Reed
Guaraní youth photographed by Dr. Richard Reed

Richard Reed, Anthropologist

In the early 1980s, anthropologist Richard Reed began his work with the Guaraní people in Paraguay. Despite very real and very serious challenges, their story is one of undeniable resilience in the face of adversity.

Reed has returned to Paraguay on average every two years over the past thirty, during which time he has observed significant change. Brazilian soy bean farmers have forced the Guaraní off their lands. Families have migrated to the cities to find work and food. Many adolescents have turned to prostitution and drugs. But at the same time, individuals he knew first as children are now adults, petitioning the government on behalf of the tribe for aid and legal support.

The anthropologist detailed what he felt in January of this year, when he stood in a hot, foul-smelling city garbage dump, visiting the home of Lali, a young Guaraní woman who he met twenty years before. “This is hell,” he said to his son, Austin. “We’re here. This is as bad as it gets.” However, as he talked with his host and longtime friend, his opinion changed. “I discovered that Lali actually feels that she’s carved out kind of a nice life for herself in the city dump,” he said. He contemplated how her family was there with her; how they’ve built a house, a school, a place of worship; and how they have formed a community, making the best of their situation and approaching life with resilience. Reed is the author of Forest Dwellers, Forest Protectors.

Miriam Sitz works for Accion Texas Inc., the nation’s largest non-profit microlender. A graduate of Trinity University, she blogs on Miriam210.com and sells handmade goods on TinderboxGoods.com. Follow her on Twitter at @miriamsitz.  Click here for more stories from Miriam Sitz on the Rivard Report.

Related Stories:

PechaKucha 11 Preview: Josephine Theatre (August 2013)

PechaKucha 10: Sonic Waves and Children’s Stories at Casa Rosa (May 2013)

PechaKucha 10 Preview: Welcome to the Casa Rosa (May 2013)

PechaKucha 9: “A fine line between a good time and a family brawl.” (February 2013)

Preview of PechaKucha 9: All is Fair in Love and… Work? (February 2013)

PechaKucha Night Vol. 8: The Care and Feeding of a Full and Hungry House (November 2012)

A Preview: PechaKucha Night Volume 8 (November 2012)

PechaKucha 7: From Hawaii to Vietnam, Singing in the Rain (and Milk) (August 2012)

Prelude to PechaKucha Night 7: 20 slides, 20 seconds (August 2012)

Miriam Sitz

Miriam Sitz writes about urbanism, architecture, design, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @MiriamSitz