Details About Anthem Gallery with Benjamin McVey
Anthem was founded in March of this year. It grew out of a project that I was doing at Artpace called “Open.” I had my studio built in Artpace’s front windows and worked there for three months. The idea was to “open” the private space of the artist studio to the public, breaking down that barrier. During that time I started to do live interviews with artists and showed pieces of their work. I really enjoyed bringing art and artists to the community like that so I decided to create Anthem. Its mission is to bring in artists from outside of San Antonio with the hopes of exposing the community to new ideas and artists, and in turn exposing the exhibiting artists to our community and creating new opportunities.
Since March, I have curated, prepared, and executed four separate exhibitions in the Blue Start Arts Complex. Anthem’s first exhibition (March) featured Austin-based artist Deborah Roberts “Surface Dirt.” Second (May) was Fort Worth-based artist David Willburn “The Trouble with Last Year.” For the third (July), Flight gallery invited me to curate an exhibition in their space. That exhibition “Intersections” featured Brooklyn, NY-based artist Rachael Wren. I also paired Rachael’s work with two San Antonio-based artists, Larry Graeber and David Alcantar, finding connections between all three artists’ works. Anthem’s last exhibition (September) was with Utica, NY-based artist David Bonagurio “A Collection of Unconnected Noises Made on a Single Subject.”
- Talk to us about the type of art that you showcase at Anthem Gallery. I simply show work that I like. It can be abstract, conceptual, realistic, or a combination of all. It can be painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. The work is what’s important to me and also if the artist is approaching something differently and communicating through it. I really enjoy finding new artists, talking with them about their work, and the whole process of putting together exhibitions.
- What drew you to make Blue Star your home? I know Blue Star, its galleries, its people, its spaces, and I like what their doing for the community within the complex, the community that surrounds it, and the San Antonio community as a whole. It’s a great place to come see art, meet friends, have dinner, or just grab a coffee and jump onto the Riverwalk. It’s a wonderful meeting place and destination.
- What can people expect to see coming up at Anthem? Anthem’s next exhibition is on November 2nd and 3rd and will feature Iris Bechtol from Dallas, TX. She’s primarily a sculptor. She makes these beautiful, small, and minimal polymer clay pieces and installations. I’m really looking forward to putting together her exhibition and presenting it to the San Antonio community.
- What sparked your love of art? I really don’t know. I was drawn to it. I started off in advertising as an art director in San Francisco, then New York, but always had a love for the fine arts, especially painting and drawing, and visiting museums. I eventually found my way out of advertising and into the visual arts, which led me to wanting to curate exhibitions and collaborate with other artists.
- What’s your personal favorite work of art? Too many to list. But I love the work of Richard Serra, Franz Kline, and Louise Nevelson. Their work is rich and has so much depth within the starkness of it. Early on in my design/advertising career I was drawn to the Russian Constructionists and Suprematists like El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich. I like order, but not too much of it.
Though it is a lot of work to do by myself, I have truly enjoyed the process of finding artists, working with them, bringing their work to San Antonio and curating/designing their exhibitions. For the future of Anthem, it’s changing from being primarily a pop-up gallery to also acting as an art blog and online exhibitions through Instagram and Facebook. I’m hoping to showcase and exhibit more than just visual artists.
Rachael Wren, Larry Graeber
For Blue Star Arts Complex