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St. Philip's College
• MLK Campus Library
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Visit the San Antonio Museum of Art, the McNay, and the Institute of Texan Cultures for free with an Alamo Colleges ID

Alamo Colleges District students can visit the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), the McNay Art Museum, and the Institute of Texan Cultures for free with their student IDs. There may be an additional cost for special exhibitions.

  • SAMA features extensive collections of art reflecting a broad range of world cultures. (Some of SAMA’s galleries may be closed for renovations.)

On view through next spring is The Magic of Clay and Fire, a small but stunning selection of contemporary Japanese ceramics. Contemporary Japanese ceramics come from a long tradition that celebrates both the utilitarian and decorative potential of fired clay. Eleven pieces are on loan from Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz of Beverly, Massachusetts, with additional loans from two Texas collectors – Susan and C.J. Peters of Galveston, and Allen Bennett of Kerrville.

San Antonio 1718: Art from Viceregal Mexico opens February 17 and tells the story of the city’s first century through more than one hundred landscapes, portraits, narrative paintings, sculptures, and devotional and decorative objects, many of them never before exhibited in the United States. The exhibition is organized in three sections: People and Places, The Cycle of Life, and The Church. Included are portraits of political and economic power, Spanish viceroys and military leaders who helped shape the destiny of the city, as well as more personal portraits of poised young women whose marriages will solidify status, aspirational paintings of young families at home, nuns depicted at the threshold of their vows or at their death, intimate miniatures of lovers and soldiers, post-mortem portraits of infants. Throughout, the works invoke the lineage and authority of mainland Spain, while revealing the lives and times of San Antonio’s earliest inhabitants. Celebrating the city’s deep Hispanic roots and cultural ties with Mexico, San Antonio 1718 features works by New Spain’s most talented eighteenth-century artists, including Cristόbal de Villalpando (1649-1714), Miguel Cabrera (1695-1768), and José de Páez (1720-1790), as well as pieces by talented unknown vernacular artists. Through May 13.

Egyptian Animal Mummies: Science Explores Ancient Religion will highlight the museum’s collection of animal mummies. Recently conserved for this exhibition, the mummies include a cat, three crocodiles, two ibises, and three falcons. The exhibition focuses on the creation of the mummies, their role in ancient Egyptian religion, and their burial. In collaboration with the San Antonio Zoo and the Radiology Department at University of Texas Health San Antonio, the mummies underwent modern scientific methods of examination including X-ray imaging and CT scanning, which made it possible to understand and analyze the contents of the mummies without unwrapping them. These tests and their results will be featured in the exhibition. A dynamic series of educational public programs will complement the exhibition. Through July 1.

Opening June 22, Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid, a San Antonio Tricentennial exhibition, will feature more than forty masterpieces of Spanish painting drawn from major collections in Madrid—including the Prado, San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts Museum, and the Reina Sofia—complemented by a select group of works from American museums. The exhibition, which will include Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Sorolla, and Picasso, among others, will only be seen in San Antonio, and many of the works of art have never been on view in the United States. Through September 16.

  • The McNay Art Museum showcases a premiere fine art collection comprised of nearly 20,000 works of art. 

100 Years of Printmaking in San Antonio: Mary Bonner is the first in a series of exhibitions that will highlight the works of four San Antonio printmakers: Mary Bonner, Bill Reily, Kent Rush, and Michael Menchaca. Bonner, like Mary Cassatt before her, traveled to Paris to learn the printmaker’s art in large part because Paris was the center of the art world, but also because it was easier for a woman to study art in Europe than in the U.S. in the early 20th century. Bonner’s prints of cowboys and ranch life caused a sensation when exhibited in Paris and are still her most beloved images. This exhibition will include virtually all of Bonner’s West Texas subjects, including Les Cowboys, an etched triptych that garnered the artist rave reviews in the Parisian press in 1925. A fascinating component of the exhibition is a selection of Bonner’s etching plates. This is the first time that these recently restored copper plates will be on public view. Through April 1.

Captain Seth Eastman’s Journey with a Sketchbook: Down the Mississippi was organized as part of the McNay’s celebration of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary. Eastman was a West Point-trained draftsman who traveled to Texas in the late 1840s. These four exhibitions follow Eastman’s journey down the Mississippi to New Orleans, across the Gulf of Mexico to Matagorda Bay, then up to San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country. While Eastman’s drawings of the Alamo and other San Antonio missions are famous and widely reproduced, the minutely detailed drawings he did on the first leg of his journey down the Mississippi are not nearly as well known. Drawings of the riverscape, steamboats, cities, and settlements give contemporary viewers a vivid sense of what it would have been like to travel down the Mississippi in the mid-19th century. Through April 1.

Haiti’s Revolution in Art: Jacob Lawrence’s Toussaint L’Ouverture Series is a portfolio of 15 screenprints on loan from Harriet and Harmon Kelley. Jacob Lawrence was frustrated with the lack of narratives addressing the African American experience, as well as the absence of black heroes from history books. He later discovered that there were indeed black heroes to admire and emulate, including Harriet Tubman. He was most fascinated, however, with the leader of the 18th-century Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743–1803). In 1938 he painted his first image of the narrative, but soon realized that this great and complex story needed to be a series. Echoing Thomas Jefferson’s words that “all men are created equal,” Toussaint L’Ouverture said, “I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man.” This sentiment informed his leadership of the Haitian Revolution, and created what was the first free colonial state in which race was not a factor in determining social status. Through May 6.

Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, the first exhibition of modern, postwar, and contemporary African American art to be presented at the McNay in an exhibition of this scale, and 30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection. Featuring paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photographs by a wide range of 20th- and 21st-century artists, Something to Say primarily draws from three San Antonio collections: the McNay, the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and the Nicolas/Foster collection. Through May 6.

30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection showcases works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades and focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations. Represented in these sweeping surveys are icons such as Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Colescott, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis, as well as new generations including Chakaia Booker, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Leonardo Drew, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley. Through May 6.

Opening March 1 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the McNay’s home city, established as Presidio San Antonio de Bexar in 1718, Spain to San Antonio: Hispanic Culture on Stage explores theatre’s fascination with the culture of San Antonio’s Spanish colonial founders. The Spanish port city of Seville, from which conquistadors, missionaries, and colonists set sail for the Americas, has contributed such memorable characters as Mozart’s womanizing nobleman Don Giovanni and Georges Bizet’s fiery cigarette maker Carmen. The meeting place of Arab, Romani (“Gypsy”), and Castilian cultures, Seville also inspired flamenco sequences in Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve and Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. These and other operas, ballets, and revues are brought to life in a vibrant, music-filled exhibition. Drawings and prints from the McNay’s collection are presented along with actual stage costumes in an interactive environment. Imposing church fa.ades and a welcoming taberna and patio evoke Seville, and attest to San Antonio’s beginnings as an outpost of New Spain. Through June 10.

Also Opening March 1 is Cities on Parade: 300 Years of European Festival Books. Like Europe’s great cities of the 1600s-1800s, San Antonio celebrates on its streets and river and in its parks and squares. Donated by the late Robert L. B. Tobin, the McNay’s collection of festival books is one of the most important in the United States. These volumes are invaluable to the history of printing and theatre. Created as lavish gifts for dignitaries, festival books also provide insights into the role of image-making in today’s official celebrations. Through June 10.

  • The Institute of Texan Cultures provides an historical journey through the cultural heritage of the more than 130 ethnic groups that have settled the Lone Star State. 

In addition to The Back 40, a hands-on, outdoor living history area, and Texans One and All, which explores the cultural diversity of the people of Texas over the centuries, Texas in the First World War explores the role of the Lone Star State in this pivotal world event. By the end of the war, 198,000 men and 450 Texan women would serve in the military alongside civilian volunteers both at home and overseas. Co-curated by students from the University of Texas at San Antonio, research began with a semester-long course on World War I where students explored the war as a whole, then took a closer look at war-related activities in the state. Through March 11.

Brewing Up Texas, guest-curated by longtime journalist and beer writer Travis E. Poling, celebrates Texas brewing history from the 1840s to today and offers interactive content highlighting the state’s earliest breweries, the impact of prohibition, Texas beer memorabilia, home brewing, and today’s rich tapestry of modern craft breweries. Hands-on programming, demonstrations, and special events link the exhibition to brewery destinations around the city. Through October 28.

The Chisholm Kid explores the first comic strip to feature a black cowboy. The Chisholm Kid appeared from 1950 to 1954 in the Pittsburgh Courier, a storied black newspaper. Paying homage to the 5,000 to 9,000 black cowboys who drove cattle along the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas following the Civil War, as well as nodding to ongoing struggles for equality in the 1950s, the exhibition features panels from the original comic strip. The Chisholm Kid, known as the “Lone Fighter for Justice for All,” was portrayed as a positive black character equal to contemporaries like Hopalong Cassidy, Dick Tracy, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Through April 1.

Other art institutions in San Antonio that offer free admission to students:

  • Artpace promotes art as a dynamic social force by supporting emerging and established contemporary artists. Artpace is located downtown at 445 N. Main Avenue and maintains a calendar of three Artists-in-Residence programs a year for one international, one national, and one Texas-based artist. The artworks created are exhibited for two months at Artpace and go on to appear in private and public collections worldwide. The mission of the program is to provide artists with unparalleled resources that allow them to experiment with new ideas, take provocative risks, and realize innovative and ambitious new artworks. The projects also live on in scholarly essays authored by the program’s renowned guest curators, which offer a critical overview of the artwork made and shown at Artpace.

  • Students and military are welcomed free to Blue Star Contemporary, the first and longest-running venue for contemporary art in San Antonio. Located at 116 Blue Star in the Blue Star Arts Complex, Blue Star serves as an incubator for contemporary art in the city, hosting over twenty exhibitions of emerging and world-renowned artists annually within its four on-site galleries and multiple offsite locations within the community. 

Manifest features work by Wendel A. White. White was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at Stockton University. Recent projects include; Red Summer, Manifest, Schools for the Colored, Village of Peace: An African American Community in Israel, Small Towns, Black Lives, and others. A selection of images from the Manifest project are the subject of a Smithsonian Magazine article, “The Powerful Objects From the Collections of the Smithsonian’s Newest Museum” (in the Sept 2016 issue), dedicated to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Through May 6.

In celebration of San Antonio’s Tricentennial year, six downtown artist-centric organizations – Artpace San Antonio, Blue Star Contemporary, Carver Community Cultural Center, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the Mexican Cultural Institute, and the Southwest School of Art – will partner to present Common Currents: 300 Years 300 Artists, a project that will illuminate the 300 years of San Antonio history as told and rewritten by more than 300 visual and performing artists and presented over six venues. Through May 6.

  • The Coppini Academy of Fine Art at 115 Melrose Place was founded by the Italian-born sculptor Pompeo Coppini and his protégé Waldine Tauch in 1945 and is devoted to classic representational art. The Coppini features ongoing classes and member exhibitions

  • San Antonio Art League & Museum at 130 King William Street is the oldest art institution in San Antonio and houses a permanent collection of Texas art, most notably the Edgar B. Davis Collection chronicled in William E. Reaves, Jr.’s Texas Art and a Wildcatter’s Dream. The Art League mounts an annual schedule of exhibitions from its holdings as well as exhibitions of contemporary San Antonio artists and San Antonio’s only juried exhibition held mid-April through late May. The annual Collegiate Exhibition is mounted each March, featuring work by San Antonio college and university students. 

  • Southwest School of Art is an educational and exhibition institution. As a part of its mission it preserves the former Ursuline Convent and Academy, founded in 1851, as a place of historic significance. Exhibitions are mounted at the Ursuline and Navarro campuses.

Tangled Up in Blue features lace cyanotypes by Mary Holland. British chemist & astronomer Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype process in 1842 as a means to copy letters. It was later used to make camera-less photograms, notably of botanical specimens, by Anna Atkins. The cyanotype, or sun print, is an alternative photographic printing process that produces a rich Prussian blue print using a photo sensitive solution of iron salts rather than silver salts. These prints are made on 100% rag watercolor paper or Kozo paper hand coated with cyanotype solution and allowed to dry in a dark room. The cyanotype is then exposed to the sun or an ultraviolet light using lace, stencils, negatives, objects or drawings on a transparent surface. After exposure, the unexposed solution is washed off the paper and the image if “fixed” with water.

Because it is one of the easiest and simplest photographic printing processes to use, it was often used by early photographers to make proof prints. It also found widespread use in architecture and engineering firms as a way of copying drawings and plans, called “blueprints.” Through April 22.

Common Currents: Artists Explore 300 Years of San Antonio is a celebration of San Antonio’s Tricentennial year, six downtown artist-centric organizations: Artpace San Antonio, Blue Star Contemporary, Carver Community Cultural Center, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the Mexican Cultural Institute, and Southwest School of Art, will partner to present an exhibition that will illuminate the 300 years of their hometown’s history. Common Currents is a diverse, encyclopedic showcase of San Antonio’s history as told and rewritten by more than 300 visual and performing artists, invited to participate by their peers, and presented over 6 venues. Through April 22.