CAM 2011: UTSA XXVII Annual Student Exhibition

Ivan Salcido's "I Think Chance Workx Better With Something Like Music."

UTSA's XXVII Annual Student Exhibition opened Wednesday with a small reception in the 1604 campus' Art Gallery. The show, organized by UTSA's Department of Art and Art History and Fine Arts Association, collects work in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and installation from current graduate and undergraduate students. The work on display is selected by a juror from outside the university, usually a local artist or figure in local arts management, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners are chosen from the grad and undergrad divisions.

The call for submissions went out in January and garnered over 75 entries. It was then the job of Patty Ortiz, Executive Director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and this year's juror, to choose pieces and organize a coherent exhibition with them. Over a few days Ortiz chose a little more than two dozen pieces to represent the efforts of UTSA students. Past jurors have included painters Dan Sutherland, David Rubio and the director Uvalde's Art Lab, Abel Ortiz (no relation to this year's juror).

Just eyeballing the pieces, they seem loosely connected, thematically, by the use of readymade objects, like a cinderblock or patterned fabric, and a general interest in kitsch. The 1st- place graduate division piece, "I Think Chance Workx Better With Something Like Music" by Ivan Salcido, incorporates a chair, a harsh fluorescent tube, zip-ties and a shiny metallic balloon to become a bizarre study of balance. Every object inclines in a different direction from the others, and seems to try to take them with it. However, all these contradicting pulls frustrates the movement of the objects and leaves them motionless in their awkward poses.

"This is the best of the best," said Victor Guerrero, President of the Fine Arts Association, regarding the pieces on display.

Ortiz may have chosen too few, as much of the wall space is left empty, which instead of giving the gallery an open, relaxed quality, makes parts of the exhibition look incomplete. The first room seems particularly meager, filled mostly with small wall pieces and two sculptures on the floor, and perhaps could have been supplemented with some larger pieces.

There is also no curator's statement at the exhibition, leaving you to guess about the arrangement of installation next to painting next to photograph. Ortiz was present at the opening, but did not speak when the prizes were awarded.

Guerrero said that besides the artists, their friends and families, he saw many unfamiliar faces at the opening reception, and attributed this to the general craving for the arts generated by CAM.

UTSA's XXVII Annual Student Show runs through March 27.

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