spare parts founder Mary Elizabeth Cantú honored with “Art of Peace” Award

What’s the leading creative reuse arts organization in San Antonio? You only need one guess. The efforts of spare parts–to educate and demonstrate to the community the path of artistic expression through creative reuse–is unprecedented in our city. Founder and Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú, the charismatic force driving spare parts, continually challenges and inspires people of all ages to re-think the connection between environmental impact and making art.

Throughout the years, Cantú has been given media recognition, kudos and awards from such publication as San Antonio Magazine and Texas Public Radio. The MINI ART MUSEUM, a project created by Cantú and Gabriela Santiago, won Contemporary Art Month awards two years in a row. A combination of multi-faceted programs blending cultural arts, materials accessibility and environmental activism, spare parts, now in its fifth year, is reaching a pivotal point of growth and influence.

On February 17, 2016 in conjunction with St. Mary’s University’s Conference on Justice and Social Concerns, Cantú was awarded the Art of Peace award. This prestigious award was presented by the President of St. Mary’s University Tom Mengler. President Mengler describing the award, said “The artist chosen must be worthy both as an artist, in terms of quality, as determined by reputation in the artistic community and one who, through art, works for peace, as determined by reputation.”

Dr Tom Mengler Mary Cantu Dr. Winston Erevelles
St. Mary’s University President Tom Mengler, Mary Elizabeth Cantu, Dr. Winston Ervelles

This year’s conference theme was “stewardship in science” which invoked this quote by Pope Francis, “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and it human roots, concerns and affect us all.” President Mengler prefaced the award presentation by describing the work of spare parts as dedicated to “…community education and creativity, green-style.”

“Imagine being asked to promote the arts without any resources, which was my situation several years ago,” Cantú explaining the beginning of the spare parts. “After some research and meeting a local business owner, I realized there were tons of free materials and supplies out there for creative opportunities. These materials were no longer needed but too valuable to be thrown away. I went to this business who filled my car with all sorts of cool stuff and they asked me to come back with a U-Haul.”

annual teacher materials giveaway
2015 Annual Fine Arts Fair and Teacher Giveaway at Wonderland of the Americas

The annual material giveaway for teachers was born, when Cantú realized she could divert perfectly amazing materials from the landfill and put these supplies in the hands of teachers who could use them in their art, science, math and history curriculum. Because, a class lesson is so much more interesting when it’s not taught with worksheet after worksheet.

spare parts award workshopAfter the presentation, students attended a workshop where Cantú detailed various spare parts  projects. “Truth is: there is no such thing as throwing something away,” she said, challenging the students to give a second and even third look before tossing stuff in that trash can. Students were asked to decorate a sign reminding them that “Trash is the failure of imagination (Aaron Kramer).” All materials used in spare parts workshops and projects are donated ‘leftovers’ from businesses and individuals.

spare parts award workshop group

 

spare parts various projects include community outreach workshops with arts organizations such as the McNay and Southwest School of Art, Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center and many different schools and educator groups. spare parts hands-on art tables pop up at many San Antonio City events where children and adults enjoy participating in a creative reuse art project or viewing the MINI ART MUSEUM.

spart parts award workshop poster

Upcoming spare parts events include participation in the following events:

Saturday, March 5, 2016, 27th Annual Earthwise Living Day at Leon Valley Community and Conference Center

Saturday, March 5, 7 PM – 9 PM, Opening Reception & Performance: MINI ART MUSEUM:”That Thing on the Side of the Road, Period Modern Gallery

Friday, March 25, 2016, 6 pm, Closing Reception: That Thing on the Side of the Road, ChrisPark

Saturday, March 26, 2016, Mini Maker Faire at the San Antonio Public Library

Saturday, April 2, 2016, San Antonio Book Festival at the San Antonio Library

Friday, April 15, 2016, Bohnam Academy Spring Art Festival

Interested in volunteering? Please contact sparepartstudio@gmail.com for details.

Photos by Laura Carter.

Moving Painting—the art of the swing

Imagine lying on your belly in a big fabric swing, kind of like swinging like Batman as a kid. With a non-traditional painting utensil—think silk flowers, squishy ball, hand broom, even a flip flop rubber sandal—dipped in paint. Your educator/facilitator gently pushes you over across an area of canvases collected from thrift stores to freely apply marks. Slinging, flinging, dribbling and dabbing—you’re creating a masterpiece like no other.

sacurrentMOVINGPAINTING_begin

Moving Painting is a cross-disciplinary performance and visual art experience designed by spare parts which debuted at the contemporary arts showcase event Luminaria 2015.  “The concept for Moving Painting percolated in my thoughts for some time before finally sharing it earlier this year with Gabriela Santiago and Roberta Hassele,” said Mary Cantú, Founder and Director of spare parts. “I was hesitant to talk about it because it was a wacky idea and wasn’t sure it would be accepted.”

sacurrentMOVINGPAINTING__But spare parts advisory board members Santiago and Carla Berryman (who helped write the proposal) have no problem with not only accepting, but embracing, the non-traditional art experience. Currently serving as Director/Co-Chair Contemporary Art Month San Antonio, Hassele joined the team to  bring her considerable experience and talents to the project. The result is the creation of a unique, free-form artistic experience which speaks to children and adults alike.

It challenges participants, as well as audience to rethink artistic expression.

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Captured comments from Moving Painting participants.

Luminaria looked at the proposal and noticed our performance needed to hang from a secure structure. Initial plans included the installation of scaffolding. Fortunately, CrossFit Mind Body Soul, a business on this year’s Luminaria footprint, was open to hosting Moving Painting. “Our experience was very positive with Andrew Lilly and the entire CrossFit staff, “states Cantú. Lilly described Moving Painting as “unique because you’re constantly moving around the paintings seeing everything from a different angle/perspective instead just staring at it straight up and down as it sits still in front of you.”

Kinetic, creative, interactive, colorful, wacky and fun

It’s nostalgic; it reminds people of swinging on the playground. It’s open ended: you can paint as much or as little as you want; you can experiment with colors and mark making.

“I would love to see Moving Painting installed in the middle of huge closed arena like the Alamodome; at The DoSeum, out in a grand public place like Market Square; at a venue such as Brick at Blue Star,” said Hassele. “Or, at parks, birthday parties, in museums, back at Crossfit MBS, team-building events for businesses/organizations, in your backyard, Fiesta, Siclovia, and Chalk It Up (replace paint for chalk),” added Cantú. “There are endless possibilities.”

Nina Hassele (l) & Mary Cantu (r)
Roberta Hassele (l) & Mary Cantu (r)

Good news! The Moving Painting experience is for hire. If you are interested in the bringing this unique fun to your next event. Contact sparepartstudio@gmail.com.

Luminaria: Established in 2008, Luminaria is a contemporary arts festival unique to San Antonio. The two-night event is a celebration of the arts presenting new works by performance, literary and visual artists.

 

 

Deep In The Heart: A Texas Trilogy – spare parts MINI ART MUSEUM Travels to Europe

June 2015 San Antonio MINI ART MUSEUM Exhibition travels to Europe_PRESS RELEASE
Deep In The Heart: A Texas Trilogy
The Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM travels across the Atlantic June 8, 2015 to exhibit artwork by Vincent Valdez, Angela Fox & Christiana Puente.

The MINI ART MUSEUM (MAM) is proud to present Deep in the Heart: A Texas Trilogy, an exhibition featuring the work of three San Antonio born- & based-artists, that will travel through Europe June 8-24, 2015.

Deep in the Heart: A Texas Trilogy artists are: 2015 Texas State Artist Vincent Valdez, Angela Fox & East Central High School senior/Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) 2015 Texas State medalist Christiana Puente.

“Not only are participating artists pushing boundaries in this exhibition because this is the smallest work they have ever created (& commissioned by a museum), they are also surpassing geographical borders,” explains MAM Board Member Nancy Casanova.

“My artwork is going to places I have never been before,” exclaims Angela Fox.

Casanova will exhibit & document Deep in the Heart: A Texas Trilogy in the following European cities June 8-24, 2015: Paris, Munich, Venice, Florence & Rome. “Each artist created a small-scale portrait reflective of our community’s diverse artistic craftsmanship, & we are pleased to share their work with the rest of the world,” Casanova continues.

“Each artwork is no larger than a business card (2×3 inches) but packs a powerful story. Don’t let size deceive you,” notes Mary Elizabeth Cantú, Spare Parts Founder/MAM Co-Founder. “We provide the magnifying glasses, too.”

Vincent Valdez, Angela Fox & Christiana Puente (left to right)
Deep in the Heart: A Texas Trilogy artists: Vincent Valdez, Angela Fox & Christiana Puente (left to right)

“We are ecstatic that the MINI ART MUSEUM is going to Europe & I don’t think we could ask for a better group of artists to represent San Antonio,” says MAM Co-Founder Gabriela Santiago.

The Spare Parts MAM is a non-traditional art venue & serves as a site-specific institution that generates accessible fine art experiences.

Spare Parts founded the MINI ART MUSEUM in 2013 to bring the fine arts museum to schools & the community. This opportunity for schools seeks to eliminate bus fees, complicated scheduling & simply brings fine art to classrooms & the world.

In 2014 & 2015 the MINI ART MUSEUM won back-to-back Contemporary Art Month Through the Looking Glass Awards for Bending Perceptions. This year San Antonio Magazine recognized the MINI ART MUSEUM as the city’s Best Program Introducing Youth to the Art World.

Follow the MINI ART MUSEUM on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/miniartmuseum/) & Instagram (MINIARTMUSEUM). #weeart