Spare Parts Summer of ’17 brought to you by Friends of Spare Parts Board President Laura Carter

Laura Carter, President, Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

If you live in Texas, it might be hard to tell the summer season is almost over. Those of you who are teachers, students or parents of school-aged kids know ‘back to school’ is upon you. The Spare Parts team hopes you all had a good summer. For Spare Parts’ Board of Directors and staff it’s been gloriously busy.


In June of 2016, we initiated a fundraising campaign for a permanent location to house our offices, to create a Spare Parts store where San Antonians can donate or purchase preloved art materials, and to host creative reuse programs year-round. To reach this goal we realized Spare Parts needed to establish itself as a 501c3 nonprofit. Currently Spare Parts, a sole proprietorship, is a member of Fractured Atlas, a national nonprofit arts organization that allows us to accept your charitable donation for tax-deductible purposes.


Friends of Spare Parts founding Board of Directors (left to right, back row): Jeanne Cantu, Regina Villalobos-Perez, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Laura Carter, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Heather Eichling. Front row, left to right: Carla Berryman, Brenda L Burmeister and Chris Castillo.

On June 9, 2017, we held our first Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors meeting—a formal Board being one of the criteria for establishing an 501c3 nonprofit. We adopted Bylaws and began the process of creating committees and discussing goals. As the elected President of the Board, I am excited to be working with capable and enthusiastic Board members Carla Berryman (Treasurer), Brenda L Burmeister, Jeanne Cantu (Vice President, Friends of Spare Parts), Chris Castillo (Vice President, Mini Art Museum), Heather Eichling, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Regina Villalobos-Perez (Secretary). Mary Elizabeth Cantú was hired to hold the Spare Parts Executive Director position.


Friends of Spare Parts Board Members (Laura Carter, Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk), Mia, Laura, Anna and Dezarre Boone and Spare Parts Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú at August’s Spare Parts Shop. All Spare Parts Shop proceeds goes to securing a building of our own for a year-round Spare Parts store & community center.

Our annual summer Fine Arts Fair/Materials Giveaway, historically held at Wonderland of the Americas, was postponed until Spare Parts secures a space. In its stead, our Spare Parts Shop committee lead by Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk held two pop ups, stocked with preloved creative materials and various artsy things for sale-cheap. The Spare Parts Shop has plans to pop up at various locations monthly going forward.


Cantú, co-founder of the Mini Art Museum took a new exhibit all the way to Columbia, South America in July. “Controlled Burn” was curated by San Antonio artist/Mini Art Museum committee member Daniel Rios Rodriguez. Visit to learn more about this wee adventure!


Left to right: Lucero Munoz, Mary Elizabeth Cantú and Cecilia Cedillo in Villa de Leyva, Colombia (July 2017). Munoz and Cedillo were Cantu’s traveling companions. Munoz is originally from Armenia, Quindio, Colombia.

Our programming continues to thrive under Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú. As Board committees evolve, we will announce ways you can help take Spare Parts to the next level. At any time you can make a tax-deductible donation to our permanent space campaign. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too.


If there are any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email: 

-Laura Carter
President, Board of Directors
Friends of Spare Parts

During her 14-day stay, Cantu installed “Controlled Burn in 12 locations across Colombia. Here is a group of students at their rural school in Rio Verde visiting the Museum (July 2017).
MINI ART MUSEUM presents “Controlled Burn” curated by Daniel Rios Rodriguez. This picture was taken at a coffee farm in front of the Andes Mountains of Colombia (July 2017).

MINI ART MUSEUM is a little big deal

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MINI ART MUSEUM Founders, Mary Elizabeth Cantu (left) & Gabriela Santiago (right)

Sometimes great things come in small packages. Take for instance the award-winning spare parts MINI ART MUSEUM (MAM). The mini museum concept sprang from the artistically fertile imaginations of teacher & artist Gabriela Santiago, & spare parts founder & director Mary Elizabeth Cantu. “It’s been an honor to work with Gabriela for the past several years in different capacities through the field of art education,” explains Cantu. “In the summer of 2013, during one of our many creative brainstorming sessions, the idea of the MINI ART MUSEUM arose as a unique solution to present meaningful fine art museum experiences where they are less accessible.”

“Being a fourth grade teacher, I know how difficult it is to find the time & money to organize a school field trip to a museum,” said Santiago. “The MINI ART MUSEUM brings that experience to the schools – docent led tours, take away art project, even a gift shop. It’s a big little deal.” San Antonio Magazine-February 2014 edition-gave spare parts’ MINI ART MUSEUM kudos for “bringing art directly to students in micro form…all with a trash-to-treasure approach.”

San Antonio Magazine's Awards the MINI ART MUSEUM: Best Program Introducing Youth to the Art World, 2015
San Antonio Magazine’s Awards the MINI ART MUSEUM: Best Program Introducing Youth to the Art World, 2015

Original artworks submitted by artists using various materials including reusable &/or natural materials are displayed in portable, repurposed binders. Dubbed #weeart the tiny art pieces deserve no less scrutiny than their larger counterparts. Maureen Dobbler, teacher at East Central High School wrote, “The MINI ART MUSEUM is just different in a good way, so it makes you look closer & think more than a traditional museum. It allows you to open your mind & creativity to what art is out there & what the students could create themselves.” This may be art at kids’ eye-level, but it was very compelling overall, inviting all ages & heights to look intently & carefully at the small artworks.

Claudia Zapata - Curator - resized
Claudia Zapata, Cabinet of Curiosities Curator

Each MAM exhibition is carefully chosen by a seasoned curator. This year’s MAM Contemporary Art Month (CAM) Invited Curator, San Antonio native, Claudia Zapata participated as an artist in last year’s MAM CAM exhibition. The exhibit, “Short Stories,” was awarded the “Through the Looking Glass Award for Bending Perceptions, 2014” by CAM. “Short Stories” was curated by Sarah Castillo, founder of Lady Base Gallery. This year’s delightfully titled submission to CAM is “Cabinet of Curiosities.” This exhibition takes a look at the nature of the museum & its role in collecting & representing culture. It will be exhibited in various locations across San Antonio during the month of March. Follow the MAM on Facebook.

“Cabinet of Curiosities.” showcases original multimedia artworks created by artists from across the United States. Zapata tell us, “The concept of the exhibition is based on the cabinet of curiosity, or the Wunderkammer beginning as early as the 16th century practice of European private collection. This came to refer to collections of paintings, natural objects, archaeological artifacts & other figures that elicited “wonder.” Eventually private collection with an array of exotic and one-of-a-kind items would be the predecessors for major museum’s permanent collection.”

Cornelia White Swann / Pomegranate, 2014 / Natural Dye on Watercolor Paper / Loan, Courtesy of the Artist

Artist Cornelia White Swann (left) describes her work for the MAM as organic, fluid, colorful & the smallest art piece she has made. “I’ve recently started working smaller & working at this even smaller size was fun,” Swann says. “This painting is created with natural pigments from pomegranates. The process involves collecting the plant matter, extracting the liquid from the fruit & painting with it on watercolor paper. The dye from the fruit dries on the paper creating striations of heavy pigment to light pigment on the paper.”

Daniel Rios Rodriguez in collaboration with Theophile D. Rodriguez  /  Enchanted Rock, 2015  /  Pink Granite, Wood, Dried Flowers, Paper Collage & Acrylic  /  Gift of the Artist
Daniel Rios Rodriguez in collaboration with Theophile D. Rodriguez / Enchanted Rock, 2015 / Pink Granite, Wood, Dried Flowers, Paper Collage & Acrylic / Gift of the Artist

Another of the selected piece comes from Daniel Rios Rodriguez & collaborator Theophile D. Rodriguez (right). “I usually work small but this was probably the smallest work I’ve ever made &  just as engaging as some of my larger pieces,” wrote Rodriguez. “It will fit in the palm of your hand. It is pink granite, paper, wood & a memory. Imagine the sunrise with the moon in view.”

“The truth is, art is best experienced, when you see it live & in person,” Cantu says. “We used the objectives of spare parts to found a traveling museum. Taking the MINI ART MUSEUM very seriously, from working with superb curators who invite talented artists, provides a truly enriching & engaging experience. MAM continues to grow, gain recognition & can come to a location to you.” Please contact us if you would like the Museum installed at your event, location or school.  Email: & visit us on