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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


Alex Rubio, director of the MOSAIC art education program at Blue Star Contemporary, lived at the Complex for six years, but left last January when his rent was increased suddenly by $200. “It was kind of instant, and kind of a surprise,” said Rubio. “So I had to move. But there’s a happy ending. Two years ago, I knew that rents were going up; property values were going up. So I invested in some property on Lachapelle.” Now living in the back of R Gallery, Rubio is part of a new generation of art pioneers, blazing another art district centered on Lone Star Boulevard and South Flores Street.

But he still has faith in the institution on Alamo. Asked if he believes galleries will move back to Blue Star, Rubio replied “Definitely. I think Blue Star has a tradition of alternative spaces… It’s been a magnet for emerging — now established — galleries. I think people know that reputation, and want to be part of that. I think the spaces that are opening up are very inviting for people who don’t know what Blue Star used to be. We have to make way for retail, progress, the expansion of a demanding market.”

Now in their 10th year working and living at Blue Star, artists Bryson Brooks and Holly Hein Brooks are staying put. The entrepreneurial married couple take the business side, the hustle, of their vocation seriously, and the changes at Blue Star seem to be rewarding their efforts.

“Artists have moved, that’s for sure,” Bryson told the Current. “There’s us, and maybe a couple of people, who are left. But a lot of people are living here. Many are in the gas business, and military folks here too.” Asked about the resentment towards gentrification at Blue Star that is often voiced in the arts community, Bryson responded, “The rents, people get so mad about it, but San Antonio is one of the top 10 largest cities in the country. You’ve got the River Walk, a lot of tourists come down here. If you make your living off your art, you can make it work here. It takes a bit of focus, or maybe luck. But the people who have gas jobs are able to buy our paintings, you know what I mean?”

You’re making money off the fracking business?

“Yeah. We’re selling a lot [of art] to the neighbors.”

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