With the museum and gallery scene bustling again, summertime in San Antonio has never been so artistically cool and eclectic. There is something for everyone, whether it’s old Hollywood westerns, organisms with extraordinary talents, American impressionists, fanciful prints, dogs riding the railroad, or artists contemplating the effects of COVID-19 on their craft, these eight local exhibits and activities are definitely worth your while.
The McNay Art Museum
“John Baldessari: California Dreaming.” Now through August 15.
Influential California artist John Baldessari’s work is conceptual, focused primarily on the idea of art and how it is made, and is often based on pictures collected from magazines, newspapers, or film stills. He then recombines these images to create fascinating compositions whose narratives the artist wanted the viewer to interpret. The meaning becomes secondary in Baldessari’s work, and fun is at the forefront. Trying to puzzle out the meaning is icing on the cake.
“E La Nave Va.” Now through August 14.
Taken from Federico Fellini’s 1983 surrealist film and the title of Cecilia Biagini’s recent painting, “E La Nave Va” encapsulates the strangeness of the past months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition expresses the collective overthinking, daydreaming, and fantasizing that, for better or worse, accompanies a changeable future as life goes on. The exhibition features works by Fernando Andrade, Richard Armendariz, Cecilia Biagini, Nate Cassie, Ana Fernandez, Leigh Anne Lester, César A. Martínez, Cristina Muñiz, and Mark Schlesinger.
San Antonio Museum of Art
“America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution.” Now through September 5.
Impressionism has been one of the most enduring styles of art ever produced, and its complex and often contradictory American variation has captured and held public attention for more than a century. But although French and American impressionism share some terminology and some artistic elements, this exhibition will demonstrate that the two styles diverged quite dramatically.
“Extreme Creatures.” Now through September 6.
“Extreme Creatures: Life at the Limits” shines a light on the breathtaking diversity of the natural world and the power of natural selection to shape exceptional responses to the challenges — and opportunities — of life on Earth. Featuring life-size and larger-than-life models, and videos, this interactive exhibit highlights an array of living things that have surprising ways of thriving in harsh environments, finding a mate or their next meal, leveraging strength, endurance, speed, and more.
Briscoe Western Art Museum
“Still in the Saddle.” Now through September 6.
“Still in the Saddle: A New History of the Hollywood Western” tells the dramatic story of the Hollywood western of the late 1960s to the 1980s. Against a historical backdrop of social unrest, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, and generational change, competing cinematic visions of the Old West vied for Americans’ attention within the popular culture of the day. And as they did so, the western remained as rich and entertaining as at any time in its history. True Grit, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, Little Big Man, and The Outlaw Josey Wales are just a few of the classic western films highlighted.
San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum
The 24th – Black History Film Series. September 3.
For a family-friendly event under the stars on the San Antonio River, SAAACAM is showing The 24th as part of its Black History Film Series, followed by a Q&A discussion. The film is based on the true story of the Houston riot of 1917 and the African American military regiment called the 24th. Despite their military service, the soldiers are subjected to racial discrimination by the white police force and community, and eventually an uprising ensues. Food truck fare will also be available at the screening.
Texas Transportation Museum
Dog Days of Summer! August 28.
For more than 50 years, the Texas Transportation Museum has been the place for all train enthusiasts, showcasing railroad equipment, automobiles, model railroads, artifacts, and of course, steam and diesel train rides. As part of Dog Days of Summer, man’s best friend can ride the trains as well. In celebration of National Dog Day (August 26), pups can ride along in the flat rail car with their per parents.
Blue Star Contemporary
Multiple exhibits now through September 5.
Blue Star Contemporary boasts emerging, mid-career, and established artists working in a variety of media. Current exhibits include Terran Last Gun, a solo exhibition of ledger drawings, a form that rose to prominence among native artists in the mid-1800s and continues today; Doerte Weber: Shed, a weaving exhibit reflecting on COVID-19 and everyday life during the pandemic; The Sitter, a group exhibition highlighting contemporary portraiture and figuration; and Joanna Keane Lopez: The Adobe Color Laboratory, a solo exhibition of newly commissioned adobe sculptural work.