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Arts & Culture

Life in the studios at South Flores and Lone Star

Photo: Photos by Scott Andrews, License: N/A

Photos by Scott Andrews

Andy Benavides at home in his 1906 building

Photo: , License: N/A

Joe Lopez at Gallista Gallery on South Flores


Vega started off in the space now occupied by Silkwörm Studio and Gallery, run by Joe de la Cruz. While Vega has branched out, Silkwörm concentrates on local artists. Sometimes there’s a heavy urban vibe; the long, narrow room has seen tattoo-based shows and body painting. If there is any continuity, it’s that the art is by younger artists with a hunger to put their work out there.

In the back of 1906 is a new gallery, AP Projects, run by Amanda Poplawsky. Perhaps showing the work least likely to sell of all the galleries, the project space recently featured a tribute to scientist Carl Sagan.

Located on the right as you enter the 1906 is another new gallery, SoPac Studio, a collaborative work and exhibition space run by artists Jessica Ramirez and Jonathan Sims that opened in March. Specializing in works on paper and canvas, SoPac recently featured abstract paintings by Timothy Lai.

* * *

Across the street from the 1906 building at 1913 South Flores, Joe Lopez has been running Gallista Gallery, second runner-up for Best Art Gallery in this year’s Current readers’ poll, since 2000. Gallista is a haven for Latino art, with a reputation that goes well beyond city limits. “We mainly feature Chicano and Chicana artists,” Lopez explains. “My goal, when I started, was to show people that we had class, and by we I mean Mexican Americans. I grew up in simpler times, we were looked down on, and I just wanted to show people we had class, too. I think we’ve done that.”

With collectors like Cheech Marin keeping track of the gallery, Lopez has more than proved that local Latino artists have validity. But when he started off, Lopez, an artist in his own right, wasn’t sure how he would get by, which led him to setting up studios for rent in his sprawling building. A café was added, open on and off over the years under different management. With the ups and downs of the economy, just two years ago Lopez was looking to unload the building so he could devote himself fulltime to his art. The latest incarnation, managed by Yolanda Arevalo, seems to be succeeding, though.

“Now we have a little restaurant, we’ve had others, but this one seems to work — the prices are reasonable,” said Lopez. His wife, Mary Francis, has helped over the years, and Lopez also has help from Jose Cosme, a young Chicano artist who has exhibited at Gallista and says that only Lopez could run the honored gallery. Referring to the time when he it was for sale, Cosme said, “Gallista with out Joe wouldn’t be Gallista.”

Now, the studio rentals are at full capacity, and Lopez is looking to expand the café to a full kitchen and stay awhile. Part of the new changes at Gallista includes two new galleries, Lady Base Gallery and Third Space.

When Luis Valderas, an artist who now teaches art at Northside ISD’s Clark high school first left his home in the Rio Grande Valley for San Antonio in 2000, he set up his studio space at Gallista, and stayed till 2005. He returned to the complex in 2011, and opened Third Space Gallery with his wife, Kim Bishop; also an artist and art teacher, she heads the art program at Brackenridge high school.

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