A Star is (Re)born
San Antonio's iconic Blue Star Contemporary rebrands while sticking to its mission
For the astronomy nerds out there, the thing that comes after a blue star is a red one. For Blue Star Contemporary, the nonprofit art space, it’s a softer rebranding to Contemporary at Blue Star. San Antonio’s oldest contemporary art nonprofit unveiled a new name, graphic identity, and website on September 30, but it’s still the same organization people know and love.
Contemporary at Blue Star is celebrating its new identity with a public First Friday Block Party on Friday, October 7, at 6 pm. The event includes a DJ and an interactive screen-printing station with a donation to The Contemporary. Visitors can peruse the five galleries currently active.
Public-facing discussions about the organization’s identity started in 2021, when it assembled some focus groups of artists, educators, and other community. Prompting such a subtle change, it seems that San Antonians agreed the nonprofit was representing itself fairly well already, and just needed a little more specificity about the locale.
“During the community feedback process, we asked, ‘What is the promise we make to the community?’ and the answer consistently returned to: Contemporary Art for San Antonio, which is actually our incorporated name,” said Contemporary executive director Mary Heathcott. “To honor this history as an artist-centric home for contemporary art in San Antonio, celebrate the community we’ve built over the last 36 years, and prioritize our mission, the Contemporary at Blue Star felt like the right choice to lead us into the future.”
Brand strategist Leigh M. Baldwin led the focus groups, which also informed local graphic designer Jamie Stolarski while creating new logos. “We worked closely with the staff, board, and arts community to gather input on how best to convey the institution’s professionalism, inclusivity, and support for artists,” Stolarski said, “while providing distinction between it and the Complex and its commercial spaces.”
The logo is now “a modular system,” according to Stolarski, who incorporated a deeper cobalt blue to reflect the bold choices of contemporary artists who popularized the primary hue. The new website by Spellerberg Associates (yet to be implemented as of October 3), which specializes in designs for museums and cultural institutions, will incorporate community feedback for “a more updated, user-friendly, accessible, and engaging experience.”
In its three decades, the community organization has encompassed the Blue Star Exhibition, the Blue Star Arts Complex, the Blue Star Contemporary and more, all to make the changing business as accessible as possible without changing too much of its growing iconic identity. The Contemporary does not maintain a permanent collection, so its insides change constantly, too, hoping to keep up with the rest of the world as it shifts.
“It has been a pleasure to support the Contemporary’s role in our center city’s revitalization and to see it thrive along with businesses and organizations that sparked this remarkable growth years ago — growth that continues today,” said Blue Star Arts Complex owner and Contemporary Advisory Council member James Lifshutz. “I know firsthand the power of art to transform lives and build community, and I am energized by the Contemporary’s mission-driven, forward-thinking at this pivotal time.”
The block party on October 7 from 6-8 pm at 116 Blue Star is free to the public. On November 9, the 32nd Annual Red Dot Art Sale and Show launches with a fundraiser from 7-10 pm. It will be on view from November 11, 2022 to January 8, 2023, and will show work from more than 100 San Antonio artists, with proceeds benefiting both the creatives and The Contemporary. More information and tickets ($50) as they become available at bluestarreddot.org.