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Arts & Culture

Jimmy James Canales and Michael Menchaca Relive a Great Year

Photo: Photos by Bryan Rindfuss, License: N/A

Photos by Bryan Rindfuss

Jimmy James Canales

Photo: , License: N/A

Michael Menchaca


By this time last year, Jimmy James Canales and Michael Menchaca had both caught our attention with intriguing shows downtown and somewhat surprising inclusions uptown at the McNay. While Menchaca, who’s currently earning his MFA from Providence’s Rhode Island School of Design, got into the museum the old fashioned way (contributing a serigraph to “Estampas de la Raza”), Canales, who recently earned his MFA from University of Texas-San Antonio, had his knuckles tattooed as part of a collaborative performance piece there with Julia Barbosa Landois. Throughout 2013, both San Antonio natives successfully pushed the envelope, with Menchaca unveiling a sociopolitical window installation at Artpace (“AUTOS SACRAMENTALES”) and Canales blurring the lines between performance art and everyday existence by living at UTSA Satellite Space for a period of three weeks (“IRL: In Real Life”). We caught up with both of these distinct voices to recap 2013 and find out what’s next.

Jimmy James Canales

What medium are you best known for?
Performance art. And kissing.

What are some of the themes your work explores?
As a boy I used to pretend I was some kind of action star or adventurer or G.I. Joe-type person. Recently I’ve been realizing that art is my place to bring these childhood fantasies to life, and literally live these adventures through my art.

What’s your fondest memory of your MFA thesis show “I.R.L”?
24 hours, 24 friends. I spoke with Sarah [Fisch] in L.A. over Skype ... I had a friend in Berlin that I spoke with ... and someone in Mexico City. ... Some other people came and cooked me an egg. Me and my parents shot arrows. That was funny and fun and totally cool.

Which local artists do you most admire?
I like Megan Harrison’s tactile paintings. I really liked Chris Sauter’s [Fl!ght Gallery] show. And then my homeboy Albert Alvarez.

Who’s your biggest inspiration?
Chris Burden. He’s one of my heroes. And Joseph Beuys. But also Marina [Abramovic].

Tell me about getting tattooed at the McNay.
Chris Davila asked me and Julia [Barbosa Landois] to do a performance in response to [“Estampas de la Raza”]. Julia did her ... serenade, kind of karaoke thing with a Jesus piece. And then I did this bloodlining. The idea was to work within the theme of the show and to think of stamping yourself and creating a memory, following a tradition.

And what did it say?
“Survival.” I graduated in 2008 from my BFA program. I had this fear of not having any stability. From that period on, this idea of survival has been in my head.... I liked the idea of [the] survival of culture and how it doesn’t necessarily survive like we want it to.

Any big plans for 2014?
I just got a job at Palo Alto College, so I’ll be teaching.

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