Artpace—located within the Downtown San Antonio area—is one of many destinations within the city where contemporary art is currently flourishing.
Artpace is a contemporary art gallery and non- profit organization founded by Linda Pace in 1995. Pace has since passed away, but her vision for the surrounding San Antonio community to focus on artists’ artistic process is still alive today.
The organization is devoted to the communal art experience. One method Artpace has implemented to support this devotion to the process of creating contemporary art is by way of artist residencies. When an artist is chosen to become a resident, he or she will be provided an area within the Artpace building to set up their temporary studio.
Resident artists accomplish the aspect of a communal art experience by inviting audiences to view their unfinished and finished artworks within the space they are being created in. The most audience friendly creative space is located within Main Space (formerly Window Works); this studio space is comprised of three walls and one wall length window, so audiences may view the artist and his/her artworks from the sidewalk of Main Avenue. Artpace’s Main Space is currently housing the studio of local artist Benjamin McVey.
McVey is a UTSA alumnus and current professor within the department of art and art history. Before attending graduate school at UTSA, McVey focused solely on painting, but he slowly transitioned into sculpture and multimedia art. After graduating, McVey prioritized his ideas concerning art and realized he was most interested in physical/personal space, architecture and composition.
The artworks hanging within McVey’s Main Space studio are pieces he has created during his stay in Artpace and they display his evolving artistic style since finishing graduate school in 2012.
“Some people do not go to museums and galleries because they just do not understand,” said McVey when asked why he wanted his art to be a communal experience. “They do not understand artists and what happens within a studio. They do not understand contemporary art, and they feel excluded from the whole process.”
Moving his studio into Artpace’s Main Space has allowed McVey to show the community his art and also his artistic process. “I want to tear down that fourth wall and introduce people to what goes on in a studio,” said McVey.
Since working at Artpace, McVey has seen how this experience has positively affected his teaching. Before McVey’s Artpace experience, he was regimented and strict within the UTSA classroom. But after working within his semi-open studio, McVey has become more relaxed and accepting of unforeseen changes within his own artworks and also the artworks of his students.
McVey also hosts live weekly artist talks within his studio every Wednesday at 2 p.m. The purpose of the talks is to introduce the artists that surround the San Antonio art community as well as artists from other areas; these videos can be found on his Facebook page. More of McVey’s art- works can be viewed on his website at benjaminmcvey.com.