Maybe it was the spacious theater or maybe it was a slightly smaller crowd thanks to the Spurs game, but last night’s 14th installment of PechaKucha San Antonio at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center felt more comfortable, less crowded and, in spite of the relentless humidity, far less stifling than the last.
Tim the Girl catered the best PK food to date in the Guadalupe’s gallery, where Cruz Ortiz’s latest show, “Te Quiero A Lot Mamacitas,” is on display through July 23. If you missed it, read on for the play-by-play and keep an eye out for the next PechaKucha night, slated for late August at the Carver Community Cultural Center.
John Medina + Mari Hernandez
John Medina and Mari Hernandez began their presentation with commentary on community, and how far the concept can extend. Even if you’ve never heard of San Anto Cultural Arts, it’s likely that in some tangential way you’ve interacted with San Anto.
With programs that encompass art, journalism, muralismo and more, San Anto has been at work in the community since 1993 in two primary ways: the community newspaper El Placazo and the community mural and public art program. “Being a community servant means to share power and put the needs of others first in order to help people develop and perform as highly as possible,” Hernandez said. “And this is our community.”
“Mobile Om is more than a studio – it’s a movement,” said the wandering yogi Cassandra Fauss, before sharing a bit about those wandering movements she made that led her from college to her dream job in Dallas, then to yoga teacher and ultimately to founding Mobile Om in San Antonio. From birth to college, “I was caught up in the momentum of life, a hurry to make it to the finish line of success and happiness,” she said. “Yoga is something bigger than you and me; it’s bigger than being able to stand on your head, or not; it’s a practice of self acceptance and self love.”
Fauss established Mobile Om, a traveling, donation-based yoga studio, in July 2013, bringing what she called “yoga for real people” (that is, come-as-you-are, no fancy mats or expensive stretchy pants required) to the city.
“Improv acting is what I do,” started John Lambert, and two mantras culled from that vocation provided the heartbeat of his presentation: “I’ve got your back,” the words exchanged between actors just before every show, and “yes . . . and,” the necessary guiding force of all improvisational interactions on stage; the back and forth promise that whatever one might do, the other will respond in the affirmative, then augment.
Describing that “mutual surrender” he’s learned from the stage but applied throughout his life, he said, “I learned to offer a gift, and to surrender it just as quickly,” as a photo of his beautiful, late wife, whose long and brave battle with cancer came to an end just a few years ago, appearing on screen. “It’s an unwritten contract when you say, ‘I love you,’ to also say, ‘I agree to suffer for you, because you are worth it.’”
Among the first photos displayed during photographer Josh Huskin’s presentation: a portrait of a delighted-looking man with a stack of pancakes balanced comfortably on his head and syrup dripping down onto his face. “Sometimes you don’t know what people will do in a photograph until you ask them,” he said. In the case of that portrait, the subject and chef of Magnolia Pancake Haus later told Huskin, “That was the coolest shit I’ve done in a long time.”
Huskin displayed a series of beautiful and visually striking photographs, some unaltered and some enhanced with Photoshop. In the cases of the latter, he explained the modifications step-by-step: slightly recolored water, totally convincing composite images of perfectly posed animals with their humans, a screen shot of a Randy Beamer newscast superimposed onto a photo of Beamer holding a TV. But sorry, folks; no beer-belly slimming here.
Baker, athlete and communications strategist Ayon Wen also happens to be a proud brasileira—but don’t count on seeing her in South America’s largest country for the World Cup, when prices double and it’s even crazier than usual. Landing with her family in Brazil at a very young age by way of Taiwan and a host of other South American countries, Recife, the “Venice of South America” in the northeast of the country, is her home.
Wen used her 20 slides to take the audience on a whirlwind tour of some of Brazil’s principal (and wildly distinct) cities, sights, culinary traditions and people. “Brazil is like a Benetton ad,” she said, describing the incredible diversity of ethnic and cultural heritages that Brazilians share.
Asked during college to list three things she’s good at, Siboney Diaz-Sanchez answered, “eating, sleeping, dancing,” but anyone viewing and listening to her PechaKucha presentation would quickly come to realize that this architect and artist may have sold herself a bit short. A native San Antonian who returned to the Alamo City after studying at Cornell University, Diaz-Sanchez uses Rockite cement to create beautiful, sculptural works of art that convey both motion and directionality. “Most work I do reflects my desire to map moments, potential or past,” she said.
As a Latina, Diaz-Sanchez is a minority in her profession, and while she doesn’t dwell on that fact, she acknowledged the importance of being aware of her surroundings. “There is identity in spaces and you are affected by them, whether that space is the Guadalupe Theater or Ithaca, New York.”
Sue Ann Pemberton
Sue Ann Pemberton doesn’t have a full time job; she has three. A senior lecturer at UTSA, the principal of Mainstreet Architects and the president of the San Antonio Conservation Society, Pemberton still manages to travel around the globe with students, affecting positive change in communities far from her San Antonio home and providing authentic, hands-on learning experiences. “I believe that you have a better life if you’re involved in it,” she said, as she went on to show the ways she practices what she preaches.
From public infrastructure projects in the small city of Poth, some 35 miles southeast of San Antonio, to the design and construction of a boarding school in Mexico for the indigenous youth, Pemberton exposes her students to situations where the opportunity to impact lives through architecture abounds.
“Opening a Restaurant: An Exercise in Self Hate Written by the Human Ego.” Chad Carey, the charmingly snarky personality behind several hot local eateries (he, with various partners, owns The Monterey, Barbaro and Hot Joy) introduced his hilariously and intentionally glass-half-empty talk with one hell of a title.
Carey began his first-person account of opening a restaurant by likening it to the birthing process (“with all due respect to anyone who’s actually delivered a baby,” the father of two said), filled with “anxiety, pain, bleeding, ripping of flesh; all that to create life for this ungrateful little thing that still requires your constant care and attention to survive.” Spend the six plus YouTube minutes on this one for a rapid-fire survey of the heart and headaches that inherently come with the labor of love that is the restaurant industry.
But in conclusion, to succeed at the grind, Carey shared his infallible, two point staff handbook:
1. Work hard.
2. Don’t be an idiot.
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