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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

Next door to 107 is Comminos Art Studio Gallery, managed since May 2012 by Alex and Ann Marie Comminos. A recent MFA art grad at UTSA, Alex Comminos curates the gallery, which often presents group shows, ranging from drawings and paintings to sculpture, and craft-based work. Like 107 Gallery, UTSA students and grads have exhibited here.

Across the street is the Flop House, run by Marc Smith at 118 Lone Star, the single house-based gallery in the district. Last Second Saturday, the house filled with paintings and drawings by local artists, while out front, a few vendors offered jewelry, beadwork, and assorted personal adornment. Most fetching were feathered headdresses made by Clare Garcia, “for your Fiesta sweetheart,” she said. Fiesta is over, but we think they would be appropriate wear for any festive event. If you need to get away from the Second Saturday crowds, this is the place. The inhabitants are gracious, willing to chat, and might even offer you a bite to eat, as they did us last month.

* * *

On the other side of the tracks on Lachapelle Street is R Gallery, winner of the Current’s Best Art Gallery this year, held by Alex Rubio and Roland “Nightrocker” Fuentes. The space also houses the living quarters of Rubio, named Best Art Curator by Current readers, a much-respected local artist and director of the MOSAIC art education programs at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Fuentes, owner of the San Pedro club Nightrocker Live, also makes his home there. Opened during Contemporary Art Month 2011 with the annual “Nuevo Generatión” exhibition that Rubio pioneered at the defunct LoneStar Gallery, Rubio has been slamming it out, mounting new shows every month since at R Gallery. Asked how he makes his choices for exhibition, he responded, “Being a working artist helped. But keeping an eye out for emerging artists is important. We need artist-run alternative spaces for the introduction of these artists, so they can get a foot in the door.” “Print It Up,” R Gallery’s upcoming show opening May 11, will feature up and coming artists curated by master printmaker Juan de Dios Mora.*

The two friends arrived in the art district by chance, and with some help from Andy Benavides, who referred them to the property, which had sat empty for two years.

“Nightrocker was looking for a place to live, and I was living at the Blue Star, already thinking of moving out because of the rent increases,” Rubio explained to the Current. “We pretty much stumbled across this little gem in the neighborhood, and were able to find affordable rent in an arts district.” The spacious quarters also house a studio, in addition to living space, and R Gallery.

Asked how they could afford such a commodious space, Rubio responded, “The landlord’s a businessman. But he appreciates artists moving into his neighborhood. He’s seen what Andy, and all the galleries in the neighborhood, has done for the neighborhood. He’s helping out by keeping the rent low, and supporting emerging art and working artists. That was his explanation to us.”

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