Arts & Culture
Una Noche en la Gloria’s Funky Foundation
Published: October 9, 2013
Velasquez said Una Noche exists right now because there is a need for it. He hopes that participants will carry the torch one day and make an event that is even better. Perhaps this was his own thinking when he left Luminaria after “clashing heads” with others on the committee.
“The urban aspect of the organizing [with Luminaria] ... We knew that was the part that was really special about it,” he said, leaning forward in his chair. “The problem with Luminaria is that the vision of Phil Hardberger didn’t get followed through. It got taken over by the nonprofits. And then after that it, got taken over by the Hemisfair [group]. It isn’t what we had intended it to be.”
But even with Luminaria, Una Noche and other prominent festivals, San Antonio doesn’t have a track record of being a city where artists can find the kind of work that could provide decent living wages.
“We have some struggling artists because San Antonio has become a cheap town for gigs so bands have to take it out of town,” Velasquez said, giving an example of a $20 per band member gig for a four-hour show in SA. Barely a full tank of gas and a Red Bull. He claimed other cities, like Chicago, willingly paying more. Much more.
Cuellar agreed with this view and added that the local fashion collective shares a similar view about “creative economy.”
“[Fashion designers] have almost lost interest in the San Antonio market,” he divulged. “They’re saying to me, ‘You know what? We go to L.A., we go to Chicago and they love us and we sell our stuff. In San Antonio—we produce it. But we don’t get any attention here. So why try to be recognized here? ’Cause it’s not gonna happen.’”
Some of the artists taking part in the fest are more seasoned. Meet Yvette Shadrock. She has a gallery in Alamo Heights where she sells paintings, jewelry and mixed media sculptural pieces. Shadrock says she’s grateful for the new audience that Una Noche brings her every year but finds the idea of lowering her prices for her artwork and jewelry “a ... very difficult thing.”
“As you progress as an artist, your work is sold at a certain price,” she explained by phone. Although pleasant, she seems disenchanted with my choice of subject matter. “Once you get to that point it’s hard to go backwards.”
Not everyone has the benefit of Shadrock’s experience. Some artists still struggle with basic etiquette and making a good first impression. Velasquez offered an example of some recent commentary he had for a young artist regarding the presentation of his work.
“I know I should be looking at your art—it’s a beautiful painting—but all I can see is your crooked frame and how poorly you staple everything!” he recalled saying with mild frustration. Mild because one of the life lessons he’s learned from his years in activism is to not take responsibility for other people’s actions.
Louie Chavez, who describes his artwork as pop surrealism, told me about a lesson he learned at Una Noche in 2010.