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Back at 1906, Yvette Benavides works in their garden next to the train tracks, while her son Augusto plays with one of their five dogs. Andy spoke about his work with S.M.A.R.T., a nonprofit dedicated to raising consciousness in the city about the importance of art in building community. The organization, which has sponsored art shows during Contemporary Art Month, utilizes the 1906 building as a sort of campus, inviting students to visit to get a close-up view of the artist’s life, and hosts art competitions in local schools. “Maybe,” he says, “the interest in the competitions will convince the school districts to hire more art teachers again.” He’s happy with his family’s life, but muses on his next move. It won’t be out of the building.
“Beyond being a visual artist, I think now I am interested in how I can use a city and people as my palette,” Benavides says. “How can I use energy that creates things like this? Now there’s all this energy, and it’s all because 20 years ago I staked my claim, put my flag here. For an artist, to work where I live, live where I work — this is heaven.”
*The original text incorrectly stated that work by Brackenridge High School students will be featured next at R Gallery. The student show, curated by Kim Bishop, will open May 11 at Gallista Gallery.