San Antonio to Host Art Conference

<i> Suzanne Muchnic is The Times' art writer</i>

About 4,000 art historians, artists, museum curators, critics and other visual arts professionals all across the country are packing their bags and heading for San Antonio, Tex., to attend the College Art Assn.'s 83rd annual conference, scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday.

Billed as “the nation’s only forum for the visual arts,” the meeting is part scholarly exchange, part job market, part trade fair--offering more than 100 lectures and panels, the nation’s most comprehensive placement service for visual arts employment and exhibits of books and artists’ materials.

Participants also have an opportunity to soak up the local art scene while attending a spate of museum and gallery receptions.

This year’s program for art historians is organized around the theme of “Artistic Exchange Across Borders.” Texas will get its due in a session addressing everything from cattle-horn furniture to murals along the Mexican border.


A session on “Exile and Modern Art, 1930s-1950" will be led by Stephanie Barron, curator of 20th-Century art and coordinator of curatorial affairs at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It’s a logical subject for Barron, who is organizing “Exiles and Emigres: 1933-1948,” a traveling exhibition on artists who were displaced during World War II, scheduled to open at LACMA in 1997.

The studio art program, geared toward artists and teachers of studio classes, focuses on “Regionalism as a Key to Understanding Contemporary Art.” The sessions include presentations on self-taught artists, Gypsy artist-educators and “Women Artists in Contemporary Africa and the African Diaspora.”

New technology also has a place at the conference in such sessions as “The Computer and the Visual Arts: A Revolution in Progress.”

In keeping with San Antonio’s cultural heritage, Linda D. Schele, a Latin American art specialist from the University of Texas at Austin, will deliver the keynote address at Friday night’s convocation. Her talk will be followed by an awards ceremony honoring distinguished figures in art, art history and criticism.


WHO’S AFRAID OF COLLECTING?: “A Collector’s Reality Check on the Way to the 21st Century,” a three-part lecture series sponsored by the board of trustees of Otis College of Art and Design and Sotheby’s auction house, begins Tuesday with “Painting as a Way of Life” by Otis faculty member and art critic Terry R. Myers. Each of the biweekly sessions will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at Sotheby’s, 308 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills.

Myers will discuss the work of various artists while predicting the future of painting. On Feb. 7, a panel called “Clinic for the Wounded Collector,” on the changing fortunes of the art market, will be moderated by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, chair of liberal studies at Otis. Participants will include artists Lari Pittman and Betye Saar, collector Cliff Einstein and Nora Halpern, Sotheby’s director of fine arts in Los Angeles. For the final session, on Feb. 21, Otis Gallery director Anne Ayres will moderate a panel on “New Approaches to Collecting.” Among the panelists are collectors Clyde Beswick and Audrey Irmas, gallery owner Sue Spaid and artist-curator Bob Gunderman.

Tickets for the full series cost $50; individual lectures, $20. Reservations: (213) 251-0523.

ARTS MEAN BUSINESS: “The Arts: A Competitive Advantage for California,” a study published by the California Arts Council, states that nonprofit arts organizations add about $2.2 billion to California’s annual economy, create 115,000 jobs and generate $77 million in state and local tax revenues.


Among other findings: Out-of-state visitors attracted to California by the arts spend $288 million on in-state transportation and lodging, generating $158 million in income and 4,200 jobs; 24 million paid admissions to nonprofit California arts events in 1993 generated about $200 million in spending, in addition to tickets and admission fees; arts festivals generate about $11 in economic activity for each $1 of cost.

The study was prepared by the Washington accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, based on surveys conducted by Facts Consolidated of Los Angeles. Copies of the 86-page report can be ordered for $10 apiece (with checks payable to the California Arts Council) from Economic Impact Report, California Arts Council, 2411 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817. Seven-page summaries are available for $3. Information: (800) 201-6201.*