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Artpace brings artists from all over the world to San Antonio | Pro Club Bd

Inside Artpace San Antonio, an art gallery and studios west of downtown, is a towering wall displaying the names of more than 260 artists from places like London; Havana; and Bangalore, India; as well as San Antonio and other cities in Texas.

These are all artists who have participated in the nonprofit’s artist-in-residence program over the past 27 years. Three times a year, Artpace director Riley Robinson recruits a curator who has the freedom to choose any three artists: one from Texas, one from other parts of the United States, and one from abroad.

Artpace offers each artist a free second-floor apartment, $6,000 toward living expenses, a $10,000 stipend toward art production, and access to studio space, including a workshop across the street equipped with equipment like a welder and sandblaster Is provided .

The artists spend two months making any type of art they like – painting, sculpture, photography, film or performance art. Artpace then exhibits their work for two months before Robinson brings in another curator for the next cycle.

“We don’t really put any restrictions on artists,” said Robinson. “I don’t go in there and tell them, ‘Hey, look, I don’t think people are going to understand the Peruvian Civil War of 1885, so I want you to do something different.'”

Artpace was founded by Linda Pace, the late art collector and businesswoman whose collection is now on display at Southtown’s Ruby City Gallery. It opened in 1995 in a vacant building that once housed a car dealership. It has since been a cultural center in a largely vacant area of ​​downtown, but that is changing with the construction of nearby San Pedro Creek Culture Park.

Robinson, who also works as a sculptor, recently spoke about the artist-in-residence program, San Antonio’s art scene, and the nonprofit’s plan to convert its rooftop into an events space. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: Why do you choose one artist from Texas, another from the US and one from abroad?

A: Bringing people here to San Antonio was Linda’s desire. I think she could have done this anywhere, but she wanted to bring these people here to give them the opportunity to really do their artwork freely. It’s also the relationships that artists build with each other. That’s the magic of what the curators can do when they bring these three artists together. They generally put three artists together around a common theme. I know some relationships here that are 20 and 25 years old and they still communicate regularly.

Q: What was it like working with Linda Pace?

A: It was great. She was really nice – calm, focused, super curious. Always asked a question and listened to the answer. She liked things she didn’t really understand. She wanted to find out and hear from the artists why they did it. I found that incredible.

Q: Was it your idea to have several independent curators each year?

A: yes She wanted to give artists the freedom to come into the studio space and do whatever they wanted. That’s how I treated it. I don’t want to say to artists, “Hey look, I think you should quit video and go back to photography.”

Q: So if the artists want something that is beyond their ability, Artpace can make it happen?

A: That’s exactly what we do. That’s why we have the store. We have generic tools that can do many, many different things, but for specialty equipment, if it’s not that expensive, we might buy it for a project. If it’s a huge steel project, we have these vendors all over town working with steel, neon, or enamelling. We turned it into an auto repair shop where we converted a vintage camper. We turned it into a ceramics workshop. We rewired the building so we could run three kilns at the same time and have some sort of pottery production. We have turned into a paint shop. We made boxes. We made steel parts. And now we’ve added a CNC machine (i.e. Computer Numerical Control or 3D printer).

Q: Where does your funding come from?

A: We are a foundation, a public charity. Our budget is about $1.4 million. We get money from the city. We collect grants. We hold an annual gala and fundraiser to raise money. We receive direct donations. The (San Antonio) Area Foundation has been incredibly helpful, especially during the pandemic.

A lot of our funding came from Linda Pace. You actually have two stories here: we are the independent arts organizations she started on this side of town, and you know Ruby City, which she started on the other side of town. She gave us a head start; She gave us I think about 17 years of funding to get started and build a base of funders that would support Artpace. They ended this funding cycle; We have some money left over from the scholarship. So we’re building a foundation to top up the money we got from them.

Q: How much money can the artists work with?

A: They get a product budget of $10,000 so they can hire someone to machine the saw and buy the materials. Or if they know how to do it themselves, they can use it for themselves. But then we also pay them a $6,000 artist fee while they’re here. I wish I could give them more than that.

Q: For two months, that’s pretty good.

A: Well, if you’re from New York you can’t really sublet, you know. I’ve listened to all the artists. I want to say that many of them are friends of mine. I want to give him as much as possible. We’ve paid every artist who’s ever been to Artpace. We didn’t ask him for anything in vain. I think that’s really, really important.

Q: Do you think San Antonio is a supportive city for the arts?

A: I think so. I’m in the bubble of the art world. That’s all I do – my wife, our studio, our house. I think it is. You know, the pandemic has been really, really tough. Many cultural workers came together during the pandemic to talk to each other. So all the directors from most of the other arts organizations came together on Zoom and we all said, ‘What are you guys doing? are you guys open How are you dealing with the pandemic? Did you get your (Paycheck Protection Program loan)?” And it was really supportive. Now that has evolved into an advocacy group for all the arts and I think it’s a really, really good and important step.

Q: Tell me about your plans for the roof.

A: What we want to do is make the roof a real destination. When you come here we want to make sure you have something to see and do. So on Fridays we have morning mixers on the roof. Coffee from Estate Coffee; We usually buy donuts. I think there were about 40 people up there today. If you come and see the exhibition, there is no real reason for you to come back. But when we have performances on the roof, like art performances, something you won’t see anywhere else. Christie Blizard’s rooftop performance is really good; Garrett T. Capps played some of his experimental space cowboy music on the rooftop. We’re just trying out a few things on the roof. And about 100 people came. So if we can do more of these things to get more people in the door. Some of them will be free. Some will be ticketed. We will be able to rent some of them. We are looking to add a bathroom, bar service area.

Q: So this is another part of the effort to create another funding source?

A: Yes absolutely. build programming. Get more people in the door. Then we will have more sales in the shop. We are off seven days a week with free parking. I love the McNay (art museum). I love (the San Antonio Museum of Art). But you know how high the admissions are in these places. So if you are a family of four how much is it? San Antonio is a great city, but it’s a bit lower on the economic scale. So is that an obstacle? These museums have done a lot of work to provide free entry, but entry was free on the weekends from 12pm to 5pm.

Q: Is there a price you would sell the workshop and car park to Weston Urban for?

A: There probably is, but I don’t know what it is. The board can have a number; they are not allowed. We like it here. We like the idea of ​​the link getting through. We want to do this (the umbrella project). You know there’s always a number, right? We want to stay here.

If you look at what (Pace) has been doing, you will see that she chose this area and everything built and grew around it. It was a pretty wild area when I first started here.

Q: I would imagine that coming here as an artist you probably felt more isolated before this area was built.

A: We work very, very hard on that – so that the artists feel comfortable. When they first arrive we have a free welcome meal for the public. Everyone brings a dish. The artists present their work. It would introduce artists to the community and the community to the artists. The community might say, “Hey, this is really cool work. Let’s go get a taco.”

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