The crowd bustled as people enjoyed the DJ’s music, ample drinks, and a variety of food from local restaurants like Rebelle, Sushi Zushi and Grayze on Grayson at Thursday night’s Savor the Arts fundraiser at the Southwest School of Art (SSA).

The gathering benefitted the Young Artist Programs at the Southwest School of Art, and gave attendees a private preview of three of the school’s four new exhibitions.

The official opening reception for the new exhibitions, which is free and open to the public, is on Friday, May 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Southwest School’s renamed John L. Santikos Building and the Urschel Administration Building.

Hosting the opening reception in the Santikos Building honors the $1.5 million gift from the late John Louis Santikos, who was an avid patron of the arts and other community organizations. His gift completed the school’s $10 million capital campaign and resulted in the renaming of the Navarro Campus after him.

“In addition to the magnificence of the gift to finish our capital campaign, it is gratifying to see his name on the building because he was a regular visitor to the galleries inside,” said SSA President Paula Owen.

The new exhibitions include work by Mona Marshall and Karen Mahaffy in the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries I and II in the school’s Santikos Building. A photo exhibit by SSA Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) student Lauri Garcia Jones is displayed in the photo gallery, and Anthony Rundblade’s work is located in the school’s Urschel Corridor Gallery in the historic portion of the campus.

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Each of the artists in the new exhibitions were selected by Director of Exhibitions Mary Mikel Stump, but Marshall was selected by Owen prior to Stump joining the school in summer 2015.

“As a big fan of Mona Marshall, I suggested a solo show for her several years ago after selecting one of her works for an award,” Owen said. “I find her ideas and images forceful, as well as her use of encaustic to evoke the beauty and power of natural forces.”

The element of water has long been characterized as a transitional space between earth and sky. In Marshall’s exhibition, Three Stories About Water, the Austin-based artist uses a three-part narrative structure to delve into what she feels is the resulting sacred space. Her work challenges the viewer to consider our relationship to the essential nature of water, once revered as sacred, now an endangered natural resource in so many ways.

San Antonio artist Mahaffy’s Accumulated Erosions contains mixed media, video, and installation-based works that draws on the phenomenological aspects of time, accumulation, and loss.

“I was looking for artists whose work was equally as poetic as Mona’s, but in different ways” Stump said. “There is both connection and contrast in how these artists portray how we connect to our environment. Mona is looking at water as it moves over and through the earth. Karen addresses our environment at a more micro level. She utilizes the patterns as the residue that we leave behind in our personal environments.”

Jones, a student in the Southwest School’s inaugural BFA class, developed a photograph series – Some of My Closest Friends Call Me Mom – exploring motherhood, which “is a great example of the quality of our students’ work, and how they have opportunities to exhibit their work in ancillary spaces on the campus,” Stump said.

Anthony Rundblade's Little Bear can be viewed at the Southwest School of Art. Photo courtesy of the Southwest School of Art.
Anthony Rundblade’s Little Bear can be viewed at the Southwest School of Art. Photo courtesy of the Southwest School of Art.

For emerging artists and students in the newly established BFA degree program, the ability to exhibit work in the Southwest School’s spaces — venues that are easily accessible to San Antonio’s art patrons — is especially vital.

In Rundblade’s installation, Echoes from a Bear Cave, he explores subjects relating to Ursa, the Latin word for bear. Ursa Major is also the name of the third largest star constellation and Ursa appears in both Nordic and Greek mythology. This theme is Rundblade’s nod to the historic buildings of the Ursuline Academy on the Southwest School of Art’s campus.

“There are ten pairs of works in dialogue about the narrative Anthony selected,” Stump said. “The way Anthony used the building’s architecture places the viewer in the center of his work, making the viewer part of the relationship captured in this installation.”

Top image: Attendees of the Savor the Arts 2016 fundraiser at the Southwest School of Art  enjoy the artwork of Mona Marshall.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

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Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science and veteran affairs.