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Arts & Culture

SAMA keeps it personal with 'San Antonio Collects: Contemporary'

Photo: Photo courtesy of Electric Works, San Francisco, License: N/A

Photo courtesy of Electric Works, San Francisco

Enrique Chagoya, The Enlightened Savage, 2002, Collection of Zoe A. Diaz


Can SA artists hang with the heavyweights of the art world? Yes they can, and rather nicely, too, as proved by "San Antonio Collects: Contemporary," on view till July 1 at the San Antonio Museum of Art. It's a big thumper of a show — with 96 objects by 71 artists culled from 31 local collections by David S. Rubin, SAMA's Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art. Sprinkled in among works by internationally known names such as Enrique Chagoya, Keith Haring, Donald Judd, Joel Shapiro, and Donald Sultan are pieces by 15 artists from San Antonio. The exhibition is the third part in a series mounted at SAMA this year. "With San Antonio growing so rapidly in the contemporary art arena, we thought we would see how our city fares as a place that supports contemporary art through collecting," said Rubin. "We also thought that this would be an appropriate time to honor Linda Pace, since it has been five years since her untimely death. Linda really set the bar for collecting in San Antonio, and her influence is nicely revealed in the exhibition."

Introducing the exhibition is a suite of pieces collected by Pace. Among them is Christian Marclay's Accordion, a crazily elongated version of the instrument that snakes across the floor. Nearby, Colour motoric entrance, a five-color mirrored wall-work by Olafur Eliasson, seems magically attracted to the viewer as it changes hues when seen from different vantages. A box of 10 oversized brass rings spelling out "LOVE" and "HATE" are props from a film made by Isaac Julien during his 2003 residency at Artpace. Julien dubbed Pace "the artist's collector." Modified to "the SA artists' collector," the moniker fits collectors Sandra and Raphael Guerra, as well.

The Guerras have loaned works by SA artists Rolando Briseño, Ángel Rodríguez-Díaz, and Alex Rubio to the show. "Most of the artists we collect we do know. One of the biggest thrills is getting to know the artists. Rolando Briseño and I have known each other since we went to school together at 16. He's been a kind of mentor to me," Raphael Guerra (whose dental practice is a favorite among local artists and writers) told the Current. The Briseño painting in the show is a recent purchase. It follows the artist's signature use of food and table settings as symbols for social bonding, but admits to occasional squabbling at the table: two boxers with gloves are going at it furiously over the dishes.

The Guerras' art collection fills every room in their house, and pieces are rotated in and out of Dr. Guerra's dental offices, too.

But though they want his patients to discover the art, there are some restrictions on what leaves the house.

"There are certain things I like to look at every morning when I wake up, that bring a surge of adrenaline or something," he said. "It's almost like listening to a bird singing in the morning, it evokes things in you, you can't really describe. That's what the art does to me. For me, it's much better than medication. And probably a lot healthier, too." •

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