On March 24, about a dozen of your neighbors enjoyed a free Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum tour offered to KWA members only.  We were greeted enthusiastically by Development Manager Elaine Leahy.  After a nice aperitif of wine, beer and other refreshing beverages, Elaine led us through the exhibit Back from Berlin, featuring works from local artists Ricky Armendariz, Cathy Cunningham-Little, Karen Mahaffy and Vincent Valdez.  These four are the first to participate in the Blue Star’s Berlin Residency Program.  Blue Star is the sole U.S. partner of the renowned Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin – and the only American artists participating each year in this prestigious program are Bexar County artists!  

During their three-month residencies at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, the artists are given studios and living spaces, as well as access to workshops, exhibition opportunities, and studio visits with international curators.  One of the main goals of the program is for the artists to innovate and push the boundaries of their creative expression.  We got to see some of their first works since this residency.  This show closes on May 10, so if you didn’t get to go on the free tour, by all means go by and see the artwork.  The entrance fee is only $3 for KWA members.  

Back outside and down the sidewalk to the next entrance, we met renowned muralist and Blue Star’s Artist-in-Residence, Alex Rubio.  Alex is also mentor to the students in the Blue Star MOSAIC program – Mosaic of Student Artists in Community.  This is a free after-school arts program for high school students from all over San Antonio.  The students are chosen because of their interest in the arts, and Alex nurtures these interests, giving them first-hand experience with printmaking, drawing, painting and ceramics.  Not only are they mentored in the creation of art, they are also guided in the business of art – creating public art projects, organizing exhibitions of their own works, preparing portfolios for gallery proposals and college applications, and volunteering at community events leading hands-on activities.  

All of us enjoyed seeing the students’ work in their own exhibition.  But our tour didn’t stop there!  We got to go back into the studio to see the students at work and visit with them.  Of special note, although MOSAIC’s students often come from lower-income districts with lower-than-average graduation rates, 100% of them have graduated high school, and many go on to college and careers in the arts.  And KWA has awarded grant money to this special program, so pat yourself on the back!  Here is a link to the MOSAIC video, which sheds light on the work it does and highlights the significant impact Alex Rubio has on the lives of these young artists: vimeo.com/71227469.  

We are fortunate to have the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in our ’hood.  

- Annice Hill, Membership Committee Chair