UTSA Alumni Gala Features Unique Art Auction

Benefiting the UTSA Alumni Scholarship Fund

“Atotonilco El Alt”, by Joel Salcido




“Couples on a Mission” by Franco Mondini-Ruiz

By Gabriel Diego Delgado

On June 16th and 17th, the UTSA Alumni Association will host the Inaugural Roadrunner Weekend to benefit its scholarship fund. This year’s festivities kick off with a Golf Scramble on Friday, June 16thth and continue on Saturday, June 17th, with the annual Gala & After Party. The Gala will once again include an art auction featuring work by national and regional artists, many of whom are included in UTSA’s permanent collection.

“This year’s UTSA Alumni Gala auction will include a fantastic array of work by many great artists” states Arturo Infante Almeida, Art Specialist and Curator for the UTSA Art Collection. “Artist we are proud to say are included in the University’s collection, especially given how generously these artists give of their time and talent to support the University”

This year’s Alumni Gala Art Auction, curated by Almeida include works by Franco Mondini-Ruiz, George Krause, Earl Staley, Judith Baca, Adal Maldonado, Joel Salcido, Richard Thompson, Catherine Lee, Dadi Wirz, James McGarrell and many others.

Among the many notable artists included in this year’s auction is San Antonio-based artist, Franco Mondini-Ruiz. A larger-than-life persona, Mondini-Ruiz has captivated audiences with his signature visual language, an amalgamation of wit, skill and imagination. From elongated and gaunt patron portraits to historic painterly allegories, his art documents the rich social fabric of Texas.

A singular contemporary artist, Mondini-Ruiz is a recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant. His work has been featured in the Whitney Biennial, The Smithsonian Institute, the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis. His work has also been included in exhibitions at the Museo Alameda: The National Center for Latino Arts and Culture, the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Artpace San Antonio, El Museo del Barrio in New York City and many other institutes and venues throughout the world.

Available at this year’s auction by Franco Mondini-Ruiz is a vertical landscape painting illustrating UNESCO’s World Heritage Site: The Mission Valero (The Alamo).  “Couples on a Mission”, is executed in Ruiz’s exquisite moniker – a glitzy glam of golden globs.  The painting of the historic San Antonio treasure features the front facade of the mission wall with an impressionistically rendered madam in a pink dress attended to by a vaquero. Painted along the left side of the composition in quick and expressive strokes is a long and lean Yucca Cactus that captures the essence of the succulent and its towering floral extension.

Also, up for auction is a masterful print by Houston-based artist Earl Staley. The lithograph by Mr. Staley features sculptural elements within a richly colored courtyard wall. In the work, warm and buttery yellow cascades across the elements, drawing extended shadows and subjugating the composition in weaning light. The deeply textured garden wall, animated by a kind of graffiti hatching is painted in red, blue, and purple tones. Above it, palm leaves overhang against the rosy glow of a cerulean sky. In the background, mountains stated in a simplistic gesture leave clues of a regional demographic. Staley once said, “I paint…maps…and memories,” The gestalt of the gleaming residential plaza illustrates his mature artist demeanor.

Another unique treasure available at the auction is a black and white print by George Krause. George Krause was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1937 and received his training at the Philadelphia College of Art. Mr. Krause has the distinction of having received the first Prix de Rome and the first Fulbright/Hays grant ever awarded to a photographer. He is also the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships and three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  His photographs are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. In 1993, he was honored as the Texas Artist of the Year. He retired in 1999 from the University of Houston where in 1975 he created the photography program. Currently, he lives in Wimberley, Texas.

Mr Krause’s contribution to the auction is a photograph from His “Qui Riposa” series. Describing the impetus for the series Mr. Krause states “…My father died before my second birthday and I grew up with a pervading sense of my own mortality. The fear was intensified when my mother would tell me, in anger, that I was stubborn and willful like my father; And like him, I would leave home at sixteen and be dead at the age of twenty-five. I did leave home at sixteen and at twenty I began to work on this cemetery series with the certainty that I had only five years left to live.”

The work by Mr. Krause available at auction is a one point perspective composition of a pathway dividing a cemetery.  In the image, three figures, each engrossed in his own visitation and anchored by the grim reality of the cemetery, ominously stand among an infinite vista of plots, headstones, markers and mausoleums that starkly remind of mortality.  Each figure faces a different direction and serves to guide the eye around the surrounding walls, structures, trees, and catacombs that metaphorically construe the viewer’s ability to look beyond the inevitable demise of worldly existence.

Another piece available at auction by Austin based photographer Joel Salcido, is a work tilted “Atotonilco El Alto”.  The archival pigment ink photograph created in 2012 was originally part of a series of photographs by Salcido documenting Mexico’s tequila industry. This series of photographs focused on the art of crafting tequila and explored the history and cultural influence of the alcoholic drink derived from the blue agave plant.  Previously, ten of the images in the series were published in December 2013 edition of Texas Monthly. Mr.  Salcido has exhibited his work nationally and internationally and his fine art photographs are included in the permanent collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The El Paso Museum of Art; the Harry Ransom Humanities Center at UT Austin; The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos; The Permanent Art Collection of UT San Antonio; The Austonian and the Federal Reserve Bank in El Paso. “Atotonilco El Alto”, was inducted into the National Heritage Art Collection of Mexico in February of 2015 and a print of the image now resides in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City

“Atotonilco El Alt” is a surrealist hyper-color toned landscape in which Salcido presents a wonderfully plush Mexico scene. In the center of the image, a Nopalera cactus rests nestled in the midst of an expansive blue agave field like a majestic parental figure. The artist’s photographic angel is tweaked in such a way that the only sunlight beams we see from the setting sun are through the middle areoles; creating an Eye-of-Ra sensation. The photographer places the viewer front row by allowing these gorgeous plants to become the dominate foreground. A trifecta of vegetation, we are forced to look beyond this selection of highly-adapted vegetation to identical crops that creep ever and ever closer to the royal mountain ridges. Bathed in a natural light, the warm tones of the photograph give a calming nostalgia of a time, of a memory, of a relaxed inebriation.

Also, featured in the auction is the work of Richard Thompson. On his website, Richard Thompson states that he “began painting in the 1960’s… he has used a visual vocabulary of landscape and still life images…[and] has explored the rural, agricultural landscape of the American west with its distant horizons, far away mountains, geometric field patterns and farm buildings seen as if they are still life elements on a wide, vast table. 

In the book, 50 Texas Artists, by Annette Carlozzi, Thompson reflects on his need to depict the “nothing, the everyday, the commonplace…”. What he describes as the “simple human moments.” Reminiscent of a cross between early, turn of the century Cubist, Constructivist Russian Propaganda posters and a minimalist Thomas Hart Benton aesthetic, Thomas delivers a clean modernist air. In 1975 and 1981, Mr. Thompson’s work was included in Art Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City. In 2014, Mr. Thompson was one of 15 artists selected for Portland2014: A Biennial of Contemporary Art.

For the auction, Mr. Thomas has contributed a lithograph titled “Beautiful Past Beautiful Future”.  Angularly divided down the middle with an obtusely dominant slice, mirrored images reveal man’s surroundings in the urban environment. Almost like night and day, the yellow ochre area on the left is lit by a candle that burns bright, while the right side is full of movement; a cloudy sky crowds a ruby red figure. Buildings, birds, water, and air play a role in the inner-city mayhem. A Ying and Yang duality haunts this print with an uncanny and un-decoded melancholy impression. Bold color choices, bold composition and bold modernist portrayals give credence to such a great work of art by Thompson.

Tickets for the Gala & After Party can be purchased online at https://alumni.utsa.edu/galaThis year’s entertainment for the After Party is the Spazmatics. Known as San Antonio’s best 80s band, you will be breaking out your best 80s dance moves. Because of the support of the UTSA community during the annual Gala, the Alumni Association is able to award $150,000 each year to UTSA students.