David Zamora Casas and Jacques-Louis David Intersect at Bihl Haus

I’ve been scrambling around with too many projects vying for my attention. One came back to my attention yesterday. An email politely asking when my edit of this particular (and, I should add, pre-paid) video would be ready for the client to view. There are two short pieces involved. And I had only captured to my hard drive footage for one of the pieces. It took me almost an hour to track down the tape which had the content for the second piece. The problem is that I’ve become so poor that I can’t afford to order the professional tape stock I trust. And therefore I have, on more occasions than I care to admit, used tapes with material from other projects if they still have room on them. I guess I got lazy, because this footage I needed was not labeled on the tape. But I eventually found it.

The plan was to finish this job today. But now it looks like I might not be able to finish it until Monday.

Tomorrow I have a morning NALIP meeting. And later in the day I have to suit up in that goddamn tux and go shoot video AND stills for a neighbor’s wedding, And I have yet to have confirmation on my pay rate. I think I’ll just keep a tally of the number of times I mutter, sotto voce, “fucking tux,” and charge ten bucks for each squelched outburst (which, in this case, I suppose becomes an inburst).

Sunday is the final judging for Josiah. This is when we roll up our sleeves, look at the numbers generated from last weeks first round of judging, and fight it out. Decide which films are getting the big bucks. The numbers will be revisited. And until we can achieve unanimity, we don’t move onto the next category. We discuss, advocate our favorites, and reassess until we come to an agreement. It’s a process that has worked well for this particular festival in past years.

Busy weekend.

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Today, after making some headway on the video edit job I’m behind on, I headed over to Bihl Haus Arts. This is a gallery and an arts nonprofit center on the west side. My friend Deborah worked there as curator for some time, helping Kellen, the director, build up programing and visibility (essentially, an audience). From the hard work of the board, staff, and docents, Bihl Haus Arts has steadily been climbing as an important destination to find great art. Bihl Haus–the physical structure, the building–is an historic nineteenth century stone house around which has been constructed an apartment complex catering to the elderly–Primrose senior apartments. At least half of the arts and cultural events at Bihl Haus pull from work created by the residents.

However, for this show, “Ancient Guardians of the Sky, is an installation by David Zamora Casas,” a respected local artist who is still much too young to be able to apply for residence at Primrose.

David is a queer Chicano artist. I’m not sure if he’d approve of such a basic three word designation. It seems to be a good beginning to approach his work. This is how I described the show in an abbreviated paragraph on my FaceBook page:

“Bihl Haus Arts is outrageously decked out as a cozy fever dream. The entire space is currently a David Zamora Casas installation. Tonight the place was packed with David’s fans. One had to be cautious and not turn around too quickly, so as not to get one’s eye put out by an artfully placed dildo.”

For about thirty years San Antonio Chicano artists have been elevating the altar (during various Dia de los Muertos gallery shows) to a high art. This is why San Antonio Chicano artists are so comfortable in that art sub-genera of “assemblage.” Franco Mondini-Ruiz is internationally known for this. And David Zamora Casas seems fast on his heels. However, David is still primarily an artist of two dimensional work. It’s just that when you give him the opportunity to create the environment in which his work will be hung, he gets all horny to tart it up as insanely opulent as a quinceañera party planned by manic psilocybin aficionado.

It’s a great show. I wish I had brought the lens that came with my camera. But all I had was a short zoom lens. Here are some claustrophobic shots.

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And here we have a photo of Pocha y Payan. You might know them from their work to be found on:

www.aztecgoldtv.com

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Here they are shooting a portion of one of their many wonderful projects.

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My friend, Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez, is currently living in the Primrose apartments. He’s either 69 or 70, and clearly fits the age criteria of Primrose. However, he rarely involves himself with the Bihl Haus arts programs. I’m not sure if there are some personal politics, and this is a boycott. Or, maybe, it’s that he has been involved in the arts and cultural world of San Antonio for over 50 years, and feels he’s paid his dues. Perhaps he just doesn’t like being around a bunch of old people unless he has to. (The fact is, Ramon’s 70, going on 14.)

During lull at the David Casas show, I headed over to Ramon’s apartment. He wanted me to see where he’s going with his lampoon of a painting of General Max from the film Viva Max!

Ramon, Deborah, and I are planning a fundraising screening of Viva Max in early August. Ramon will also be auctioning off some of his paintings. He told me he wanted to do a portrait of Peter Ustinov (the actor who portrayed General Maximilian Rodrigues De Santos) in the character of Max. For those not familiar with this great movie which was released in 1969, here’s what I wrote to a friend who’d not seen the film:

“Viva Max! is a comedy about a washed-up Mexican General (Max) whose girlfriend suggests that his men ‘wouldn’t follow him into a whorehouse.’ So, in attempts to impress her, he decides to march north to Texas and retake the Alamo with his small army of lazy soldiers. They follow him, true, but only because his second-in-command (played by John Astin–Gomez Addams of the Addams Family fame) threatens to shoot anyone who disobeys. It’s an incredibly funny and clever film.”

But I digress. Back to Ramon’s portrait. I suggested that he make it real corny. “Put Max on a rearing horse, looking all romantic. You know, that famous painting of Napoleon by David,” I said, meaning, of course, Jacques-Louis David. Ramon nodded, thoughtful. “I like that,” he said. “And I’ll put the Alamo in the background.” I nodded, and said, “Make sure to put the Mexican flag flying over the Alamo. Oh, and maybe you can have some of those bothersome old biddies, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, cringing underneath the hooves of the rearing horse.”

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Ramon’s still placing the final touches on the piece, but it’s pretty much as I suggested. And if we can’t get at least $500 for this painting, than there’s no justice. It’s way cool!

It’ll be photographed and placed online most likely by Monday.

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2 thoughts on “David Zamora Casas and Jacques-Louis David Intersect at Bihl Haus

  1. You are a fine writer. This s my first view of your blog. I definitely want to see more.

    Your vivid words about David Zamora Casas ‘s installation create an ambiance which only only lack two or three concrete descriptions to bring it to life. The (too few) photos fill in for what would be your carefully crafted descriptions, but even they require some words to be understood by the person who has not seen the exhibit and is not familiar with David’s work.

    Perhaps noting something about the four directions or the other ancient guardians and describing or photographing a detail of some of them would bring more clarity to the reader.

    My favorite photo of yours is the stunning image of the mirror in front of the pansies. That photo is excellent documentation, and, in my opinion, an original work of art!

    The description of the Chapel of Love would be enhanced by an explanation of one of the catalysts for its creation: the Republican party leader who decried the immorality of the gay community, but who was subsequently arrested for soliciting sex in a men’s restroom. Thus, saints, including a Christ-like statue and a Cantinflas titere sport enormous dildos.

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