Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

First Friday draws crowd under arctic plunge

First friday (jane powers)

Despite this past Friday’s freezing rain that made for treacherous driving conditions, San Antonio’s First Friday art and music events weren’t hampered by the cold weather conditions. For anyone who enjoys a night out on the town enmeshed in the local culture’s art and music talents, First Friday is the event for you. If you’re 21 or older, galleries will typically provide free glasses of wine or appetizers while visiting the gallery.

Every first Friday of the month, local artists, musicians and residents gather to converse, critique and purchase music and artwork at art galleries along S. Alamo Street. The event initially concentrated itself at the Blue Star Art Gallery, located at 116 Blue Star Road, but due to rising gallery exhibit costs local artists have relocated to nearby, more affordable galleries.

At 6 p.m., the ArtWalk began at La Vida Gallery, located at 716 S. Alamo Street. The two main artists on exhibit for the evening’s event were Elise Johnson and Tracey Abel. Johnson and Abel paint and take photos of San Antonio’s vivacious local, downtown culture and also the softer, more scenic side of the Texas hill country. The artists moved to San Antonio with their families from Corsicana, Texas, and teach art at Taft High School. They both also have a student observer who attends classes at UTSA.

Abel commented that she was actually encouraged to move to San Antonio by two of UTSA’s alumni, Jim and Cathy Bodenstedt, who donated $1 million to the funding of the University’s athletic center and athletic scholarships.

Just one block over from the La Vida Gallery is the Melinda Martinez Studio at 628 S. Presa Street. Martinez is a San Antonio resident who has a passion for art and helping aspiring, local artists get their work out in the public eye. Martinez has personal experience with the trouble of having nowhere to debut artwork and wants to help her local community by providing artists a place to exhibit their art inside her gallery. She also hopes to provide artists with a place to sing their songs on her gallery’s front doorstep.

The band playing that evening, Tiger Style, had only been formed a few months prior to their show. Band members Anthony Brown, Russell Anthony, David Garcia and Brock Gibson have yet to designate an exact genre for their vision, but background vocalist Gibson suggested their music preference was something in the vicinity of soul/rock/psychedelic/rock.

Artists are able to visit Melinda’s gallery or her Facebook page to request a spot in her gallery. This past Friday’s exhibtion displayed pieces by Alexa Nelipa, Sandracol Iglesisas and David Anthony Garcia.

Nelipa, a Ukrainian native, moved to the United States at the suggestion of her mother, who was already living in the states. She was motivated to move to San Antonio by the affordable cost of college, but she stayed because of her passion for the local culture. While living in the Ukraine, Nelipa studied fine art, and while attending San Antonio College she studied digital media. Now, she has an eye for both subject matters and creatively combines the two in order to create collage-like art pieces.

Garcia may be known to some at UTSA; he is one of UTSA’s own alumnus. A ceramic arts major, two of his works have been on display in UTSA’s Engineering Building. Garcia stated that integration is the focus of his work. Among Garcia’s preferred mediums to mix on canvas are permanent markers, enamel, acrylic and spray paint.

Rain or shine, all art and music enthusiasts and supporters are encouraged to attend First Friday every month. The next First Friday and ArtWalk event will be held on March 7. Local participants and featured guests have yet to be scheduled.

For more information about the Melinda Martinez Studio, find her on Facebook.

For more information on works by Johnson and Abel, contact La Vida Gallery at For more on Garcia’s art, visit For glimpses of Nelipa’s art and ceramic pieces, visit

More to Discover