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Courtesy the Carver Cultural Center

The elements, clouds, Superman, and the Mexican-American experience are the themes of San Antonio exhibits this April. Discover Puerto Rican artist Raul Rivera in his first solo show at Un Grito Gallery; David Alcantar explores the iconography of Superman at Mercury Project; and Joe Lopez embraces people whose lives are not often in mainstream cultural representation in his show, “Moments.” The arts are spirited in San Antonio this month and ready for exploring.

Un Grito Gallery

“Raul Rivera: Contemplation | Contemplaciones” — April 6 through 20
In this exhibition of acrylic monotypes from Puerto Rico-born, San Antonio-based artist Raul Rivera, his work, often influenced by the landscapes of the Caribbean where he grew up, “responds to the need to dismantle the reality that we observe and highlight the relationship that exists between the elements that forms it.” This is Rivera’s first solo show.

Centro Cultural Aztlan

“Joe Lopez: Momentos en Tiempo/Moments” — April 6 through 27
Joe Lopez, a San Antonio native, captures in this exhibit the everyday lived experiences, identities, relationships, spiritual life, and hard work of people whose lives are not often in mainstream cultural representation. “Although we were looked down on, we were extremely proud of who we were…Mexicanos Americanos/Chicanos. I hope they can see their experiences reflected in my paintings,“ says Lopez in an artist statement.

Ruby City

“Amy Cutler: Past, Present, Progress” — April 6 through February 25, 2024
At the center of this exhibition is surrealist artist Amy Cutler’s interactive, multi-media installation Fossa (2015). Cutler is known for her finely detailed paintings, drawings, and prints of women working at domestic or mysterious tasks in intimate, magical settings, and Fossa creates the experience of walking into one of her works. Also included in the exhibition will be Cutler’s large drawing of the same name, acquired by Ruby City earlier this year, along with a selection of loaned works from two other series. For over two decades, Cutler has created beguiling images that only hint at unknown and open-ended stories, inviting endless interpretations.

Mercury Project

“David Alcantar: The Superman Project "— April 7 through 30
Texas artist David Alcantar’s exhibition is a partial culmination of his research about how societal negotiations surrounding power have defined American heroism, and vice-versa. The iconography of Superman and his association to “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” is used as a touchstone to investigate how we negotiate and reconcile our desire for salvation and heroism with our flaws and mortality. The project highlights questions about America’s identity, political power, military policy, immigration policy, and its supposed constitution to moral righteousness, to name a few.

Ruiz-Healy Art

“Nate Cassie: A Knife Out Of A Cloud” — April 12 through May 27
The exhibition features ceramics, prints, paintings, and video installation to examine a mixture of rousing and frightening feelings, along with the ever-present sense that one never knows what the future holds for them. Nate Cassie presents an array of objects evoking sentiments of transformation and change. In his body of work, cloud imagery is a hallmark that best captures these concepts. In the artist’s words, “They signify transition, clouds moving across the sky. Depending on what they look like, it is a sign of change in the weather. I feel that analogy applies to contemporary life, our current moment.”

Clamp Light Studios

“Narratives at Play” — April 14 through May 6
“Narratives at Play” features new and recent artworks by three Texas-based artists: Vincent Fink, Stephanie Gonzalez, and Calvin Pressley. Through surrealist imagery and abstraction, there is a sense of human nature and the connection to the natural and subconscious world pervading through each of the artists’ works. Whether it be through an intuitive process or mathematical planning, there is an essence of play and exploration inviting viewers to re-interpret the works with their own sense of curiosity.

The Carver Cultural Community Center

Akaimi Davis and Kwanzaa Edwards

Courtesy the Carver Cultural Center

Find words by Akaimi Davis and Kwanzaa Edwards at the Carver Cultural Center this month.

“Akaimi Davis & Kwanzaa Edwards” — April 20 through May 26
Akaimi Davis and Kwanzaa Edwards display two distinct aesthetics in their work, but both draw inspiration from their personal life to inspire others through their histories and artistry. Davis is known for her bold, graphic lines and strong imagery while Edwards blends personal history with fantasy to create a romanticized understanding and appreciation of all life holds.

Image courtesy of Briscoe Western Art Museum

Blockbuster Western art exhibition and sale stampedes into San Antonio

Luck of the draw

No other region has quite captured the public’s imagination quite like the American West. From the sweeping mountaintop vistas to the harsh desert flats, the landscape has fueled countless works of art. Although many still view it through the amber of history, the realities and myths of frontier life still resonate today.

It’s a subject well-known by the Briscoe Western Art Museum, whose annual Night of Artists Exhibition and Sale returns to San Antonio March 24 through 25. The two-day spectacular showcases nearly 300 new works by 80 of the nation’s vanguard Western artists. The event kicks off a six-week public viewing included with admission to the museum.

The paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works displayed reflect a panoramic vision of the Western United States, ranging from portraiture to nature studies. Works by greats like Billy Schenck, Don Oelze, Z.S. Liang, C. Michael Dudash, George Hallmark, Kim Wiggins, Bonnie Marris, Michael Ome Untiedt, Teresa Elliot, and Jan Mapes will be quickly snatched up by collectors.

The blockbuster show also gives guests a chance to discover emerging artists. Among the notable new talent this year are Jeremy Lipking, Eric Bowman, Glenn Dean, Dustin Van Wechel, Bob Guelich, Kevin Red Star, and Tony Pro.

"With a rich array of works from today’s top artists, events like Night of Artists prove the strength of Western art," said Michael Duchemin, Briscoe's President and CEO, via release. "The genre continues to flourish thanks to the talent showcased by our participating artists and the increasing number of collectors and enthusiasts drawn to the beauty and spirit these works capture,”

Opening weekend kicks off with an exhibition preview in the Briscoe's Jack Guenther Pavilion on the River Walk banks. The exclusive evening begins with cocktails amongst the art before a seated dinner. A high-spirited auction will provide a dramatic crescendo.

Guests wanting a more in-depth understanding of the Western art can participate in the Briscoe Bison Society Collectors Summit on March 24 and 25. Collectors, gallery owners, and artists will chat at a series of panels held at the Westin Riverwalk, offering expert advice on market trends.

Other highlights include The Night of Artists awards luncheon and the exhibit opening reception in the McNutt Sculpture Garden, both on March 25. Art fans will surely want to check out the evening Luck of the Draw sale, where attendees can snag up pieces at a fixed price.

Tickets, benefiting the museums exhibitions and programs are available online. Those who are not able to make it can view the dazzling collection March 26 through May 7.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel accolades to urban treasure hunting, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live in new national report. San Antonio was previously the No. 75 place to live in America in 2021, tumbling to No. 83 in 2022 and dropping even further down the list to No. 103 in 2023.

2. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this holiday weekend. Check out Spoon or Kool and the Gang tonight, or head to UTSA for their annual Asian festival.

3. This is how big San Antonio apartments get for $1,500 a month. San Antonio renters can find apartments that span 1,010 square feet for $1,500 a month.

4. Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list. Tripadvisor's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently gave Hotel Emma top marks in two categories.

5. Texas unearths new ranking as 2nd best state for urban treasure hunting. Fun fact: Texas has the highest number of metal detecting sites in the nation.

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar on Memorial Day

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

With new restaurants seemingly opening daily, San Antonio’s culinary scene is more exhilarating than ever. But even those with a packed reservation schedule sometimes crave something different.

Enter pop-ups — a San Antonio obsession that grows more popular each month. The latest to enter the fray is Restaurant Claudine chef Mel Cavazos, who will debut Throwback Sammies, a one-night-only concept sprouting up at Three Star Bar on May 29.

“I want to do something comforting that everyone can relate to,” explains Cavazos of the nostalgic concept. “I want the menu to read simply but totally unexpected when you eat it.”

The small menu includes a trio of dishes that evoke childhood memories. Cheese bread is reimagined with Romesco sauce, burrata, and basil, while another sandwich has all the fixings of a Sunday pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Those desperately waiting for fall will no doubt flock to the Thanksgiving Meltdown, complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry.

One dish, however, is even more personal. In honor of a recently passed friend, Cavazos added a “secret” vegan sandwich featuring buffalo cauliflower and homemade pickled vegetables.

“He loved his vegan wings,” Cavazos remembers.

The chef tells CultureMap that Throwback Sammies is just the start of a series of pop-ups she hopes to hold monthly. As she continues developing a career at Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality’s ever-growing restaurant empire, she sees the pop-up series as a chance to keep exploring her culinary voice.

“I want to expand and explore more options,” Cavazos says, adding, “I love sandwiches, but that’s not what I like to be known for.”

Throwback Sammies starts at 8 pm and runs until supplies run out. Future pop-ups will be announced via Instagram.

Texas' best restaurants and bars reign at 2023 Tastemaker Awards

HATS OFF TO TEXAS

It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ

Houston:

K\u00fcnstler doppelbock
Künstler Brewing Instagram

Künstler Brewing is our Brewery of the Year.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company

Dallas:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.

Austin:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day