Artpace: Common Currents 1716-1767


Ben Shirani

Artpace is an artist founded art gallery in San Antonio, TX, known for its in-residence programs hosted three times a year with three artists each. This cycle while the in-residence Artpace artists are hard at work on their exhibits which open on March 22, 2018, the Artpace Hudson Showroom is home to the first of a series of exhibits in honor of San Antonio’s tricentennial year and San Antonio’s historic roots.

Beginning on Jan. 18 and ending March 4, the “Common Currents 1718-1767,” is a tribute to San Antonio’s historic foundations from the 16th century.  

The exhibition is the first part in a six part series put together by a partnership among six local art related businesses: Artpace, Blue Star Contemporary Art Complex, Southwest School of Art, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Carver Community Cultural Center and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

This first installation features 49 different works from 49 different artists each drawing historical linkages between San Antonio’s 16th century and today.


The Hudson room is a big, open space. Walking into the exhibition the guest is greeted by an interactive multimedia installation in D-Flat by Joe Vega inspired by San Antonio in 1975.

Vega finds inspiration for his interactive multimedia work in the trauma embedded in history from genocide and forced labor and describes his intent as, “eerie and foreboding.”

The artist shatters the observer paradigm as the listener is required to strike each one of the six grid aligned, flat, square pink pads causing the work to render sound.

Vega draws the linkages between the 1745 San Antonio and today through sound and nature by seamlessly blending the the songs of Cicada’s into the short audio samples filled with apprehension and anxiety.

The mid and high sections of the samples leave the listener waiting for the clink of chains in a mid-tempo, melodic and menacing arrangement while the lower sections of the samples render tangible in the listener’s throat with sinister anticipation of the next arrangement, each pink pad leaves the interactor still listening uneasily for haunting phantom tones.   

Vega conjures the alternative historical narratives of the indigenous inhabitants turned slave laborers who worked outdoors on the Espada Acequia. The exhibit leads the viewer into the exhibition which is filled photography, paintings, sculpture, and multimedia, thick with the colorful threads and strains of history from San Antonio’s diverse historical timelines.