In the past, San Antonio has been overshadowed by the cultural oddity of Austin and the overabundance of museums in Houston, but San Antonio is starting to have an up-and-coming cultural scene all of its own. Concerts, festivals and restaurants usually steal the spotlight when it comes to a city’s scene, but the many art galleries that have bloomed in the past few years are garnering quite a bit of attention.
“The San Antonio art scene has been in a state of creative growth over the years. I’ve even seen a change in the past two years that I’ve become more involved in the arts. San Antonio is such a big city, one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., if I’m not mistaken, and yet there is still such a sense of local support,” said Casie Lomeli, senior gallery assistant at Ruiz-Healy Art and Trinity alumna.
There are a plethora of places to go to see contemporary art in San Antonio. The McNay Art Museum, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, ArtPace, the Linda Pace Foundation, Cinnebar and Ruiz-Healy Art are few of the more popular galleries and museums to chose from.
Ruiz-Healy is a unique niche which focuses on contemporary Latin American and Texas artists. “Many of our Texas artists are established and very involved San Antonio artists such as Ethel Shipton, Nate Cassie, Jesse Amado and Leigh Anne Lester, just to name a few. The owner and director, Patricia Ruiz-Healy, selects the artists for our roster,” Lomeli said.
Arts United San Antonio, an arts advocacy collective started by Lomeli and her professional peers, is a group which seeks to foster open source communication, collaboration and cross-promotion between visual arts organizations and galleries in San Antonio. Groups like these are what help foster an ideal place for a contemporary art scene in San Antonio.
Fiona Lane, a Trinity alumna who interned at Ruiz-Healy while studying at Trinity, describes the art gallery scene in San Antonio as vibrant and growing. “[The art gallery scene has] grown so much. Because San Antonio is a city with amazing culture, lots of diversity, and doesn’t have a high cost of living, lots of artists are attracted to living there. With more artists, more galleries and art events have grown up around them which is so incredible,” Lane said.
At Cinnabar, an art gallery located on S. Alamo St., international artists as well as local artist are brought in by word of mouth or online research. Heather Knudson, assistant director at Cinnabar, said, “The gallery scene in San Antonio is thriving right now. There’s a lot more than there used to be. Local artists are the base, but we are also trying to bring in artists from other cities.”
They host “Artist Talks” open to the public to showcase artists. Other art galleries have similar events.
Luminaria is an event put on by the City of San Antonio once a year. It’s free to attend and displays a variety of art forms that are meant to be viewed at night, during the day, both indoor and outdoor. From theater performances, media and dance to visual and literary works, there is no lack of entertainment at this festival. Luminaria is just one of the many art festivals that showcase contemporary art.
Events like First Thursday, put on at the Blue Star Arts Complex, and Second Saturday, put on at South Flores District, give art enthusiasts the opportunity to see art at a convenient time of day without having to make an appointment. It’s also a fun event for young people in San Antonio to attend.
Ruiz-Healy Art is located at 201-A E Olmos Dr. and is open Saturday to Tuesday, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Cinnabar Art is located at 1420 S Alamo St and is open Wednesday to Sunday 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.