Each year, Blue Star Contemporary Art partners with Künstlerhaus Bethanien to provide San Antonio artists the opportunity of a residency in Berlin, Germany. This international cultural center hosts 25 artists annually from countries around the world, supporting them with workshops, technical infrastructure, curatorial support, and most importantly, working contact with art professionals from around the world.
For the 2018-2019 Berlin residency year, Blue Star Contemporary Arts has selected four artists to participate in 3-month programs each: Jimmy James Canales, Megan Harrison, Ryan Takaba, and Justin Korver. Selection of these artists was conducted by a panel of art experts and aficionados from organizations across San Antonio, including the Instituto Cultural de México, the San Antonio River Authority, and the Blue Star itself, as well as independent collectors and curators.
Jimmy James Canales
Canales creates art in a wide-ranging palette of materials, from living plants to mechanical contraptions to the Google Maps API. He also collaborates with fellow residency recipient Megan Harrison on a project known as ‘Re-Charting Pre-Charted Territory,’ which focuses on creating art outdoors through “a collection of collaged materials, installation and performance.”
Along with working with Canales on Project RCPCT, Megan Harrison is a visual artist whose painting and photography is influenced by geometry, geology, and astronomy. She was a finalist for the 2012 Hunting Art Prize, and her art has been exhibited across Texas, in Boston and Denver, and most recently at the NEA-funded GEOMAGIC in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Ryan Takaba is a material artist whose sculptures, tableaux, and installations are centered around a study of landscape and architecture, which he credits as the product of his childhood in Hawai’i. His work incorporates thematic mediums of flowers, ceramics, and wood, and collaborates with Jennifer Ling Datchuk to produce practical handmade art-items for the home.
San Antonio artist Justin Korver has worked through the New York Center for Art and Media Studies and taught at UTSA. His list of awards is impressive, counting the Distinguished Artist Award, Stanley Harrington Art Award, and Herman Miller Award among many others. He currently works with the Southwest School of Art and Luminaria, and is a lecturer at Texas A&M San Antonio.
A San Antonio artist currently in the program, Andrei Renteria, is using the residency to bring awareness to femicide and forced disappearances in Mexico through his series, Fringes. One of the opportunities that the program provides is face-to-face outreach to the international community through open studio events. He described one such event as having over 300 attendees, and over the course of three hours he was able to share his work and message with visitors from countries such as Chile, England, and Brazil.
“I swear I felt like a scratched record replaying the same hook over and over again,” Renteria says. “But it became undeniable that what I was doing was of significance, talking about the number of forced disappearances and the percentage of cases that go unresolved more so than the work itself.”
“For the first time, I was able to witness the emotional level at which my work can reach people,” he added.
The four artists still have some months ahead before they start to ship out to Germany. In the meantime, Blue Star will be hosting a Saturday brunch at Liberty Bar for a community conversation with two former recipients of the residency program, Künstlerhaus alumni Ethel Shipton and Jared Theis. The brunch is free to attend, though seating is limited, and begins at 11 a.m. this Saturday, March 17.