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Arts & Culture

Will alternative art return to Blue Star?

Photo: Photos by Justin Parr, License: N/A

Photos by Justin Parr

View of new walkways and greenery at Blue Star Arts Complex

Photo: , License: N/A

Halcyon’s outdoor patio


They came to terms with the new owners of the old Blue Star buildings, and staged an art show that July. Against expectations, it was a resounding success, and an agreement was made to continue the art presence, leading to the founding of Contemporary Art Month and what is now Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Artists moved into the raw spaces, setting up studios, and several years later Lifshutz built the new loft building in the center of the Complex, with the first tenants moving in 1991. Over the years, businesses have come and gone, and the residential spaces, now numbering over 60, have swelled, though occupied by fewer and fewer artists, as the physical conditions at the complex slowly improved and rents crept up.

Hank Lee, owner of San Angel Folk Art, believes the future of Blue Star will most likely tilt towards either art or restaurants. Now, the food and beverage business has the edge.

“Restaurants thrive next to other restaurants, but galleries need to be near other galleries, too,” Lee told the Current last week. Approaching its 25th anniversary at the arts complex, the loss of other art spaces hasn’t helped San Angel, while the new bunch thronging for cocktails and beer are, says Lee, “another crowd. They show up at night, and they don’t buy art.” Alamo Street’s closure this winter hit Lee’s gallery hard. “We lost Christmas,” he said.

But things may finally be turning a corner, art-wise. James Lifshutz, son of Bernard Lifshutz and present head of the company that owns the Blue Star Arts Complex, spoke with the Current last week. He affirmed that the Complex is still committed to art, stating that, “The dream that began 25 years ago is now blossoming.” Galleries are finally starting to trickle back. Robert Hughes, a longtime dealer on Alamo Street, has relocated next to San Angel in Grona’s old spot, and expects to open his doors to the public in the next month or two. Mockingbird Hand Prints, a new joint effort by artists Jane Bishop and Paula Cox, will present paper and fabric prints designed by the artists, ranging from letter press cards to custom wallpaper and upholstery fabrics. Sharing the retail workload and utilizing the space as a studio will help the new venture stay viable. Bishop and Cox hope to move into their new space sometime in the spring or early summer.

Whether the alternative art spaces dislocated during the construction will return is yet to be seen. Though Lifshutz told the Current last week that he expects both cactus bra and Three Walls will return “in the next few weeks,” neither gallery owner could confirm that they would reopen soon. Asked the status of resuming operations, artist Michele Monseau, owner of Three Walls, told the Current, “He [Lifshutz] discussed rates with us about a year ago, and we came to a verbal agreement, but there is nothing in writing.” She did add, “It’s kind of exciting, I’ve been down there, checking on the space.”

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