SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is the latest stop for a traveling art exhibit that highlights LGBTQ artists from Texas.
Arttitude is a nonprofit organization that is working to unite people who identify as LGBTQ in underserved communities.
“We’re a traveling art concept, so our goal is to create spaces for queer LatinX artists to be able to display their work and to have a platform to talk about the issues that affect their communities,” said Lex Trevino, program director of Arttitude.
Arttitude’s name for the show is taking a bold stance on a gay derogatory term in Spanish.
“We went off of the idea of the word ‘queer.’ A couple of years ago, the word was a slur; it was slang. It was something that was used in a negative connotation, and now, it’s used as a gender identity. So we thought, ‘Why not do that in Spanish?’” Trevino said. “With ‘Maricon(X),’ we added the X at the end, which is to remove the gender identity … to let people know this is an inclusive place.”
The organization is based in Dallas, but one of its programs is now helping create an art show featuring local Latin-X artists. Arttitude has had five shows in McAllen, Dallas, Austin and now San Antonio.
Organizers also plan on traveling to Washington, D.C., and New York, with the intention of going to other places around the U.S. and internationally.
Anel Flores, an artist and author whose work is featured in the art show, said the art is a way of connecting all walks of life.
“To connect makes us feel like we’re no longer alone, and it gives us a sense of community. And our artwork connects just in conversation,” Flores said.
Flores has been working professionally for 20 years, but her stories and art have a common message.
“I’ve always aimed at telling untold stories, telling the stories that have been erased, telling the stories that have been shamed to the margins that people are afraid of,” Flores said.
Flores said this show is something that’s never been done before.
“What I like about this show is that we have other queer artists from other parts of Texas. I don’t know that I’ve seen yet an exhibit where we’re connecting Dallas, South Texas, San Antonio and different parts and different types of art, as well,” Flores said. “Also to have the fashion is really amazing, because I feel like that’s definitely part of our community that we haven’t included, especially in the gallery spaces.”
Camilo Garza (pictured right), an artist from the Rio Grande Valley, displayed work that was inspired by his own life in a border town.
“My work focuses mainly on gay love, gay history and (the concept of) of fragile masculinity in our machismo culture,” he said. “I feel like a part of our community is evolving with marriage equality, but in small border towns, it’s taking us a while to catch up.”
Hector Garza, an artist and fine arts teacher from San Antonio, said his piece “Soy de aqui. Soy de aya,” -- -- Spanish for “I’m from here. I’m from there” -- is using his art to highlight his multicultural life.
“I came over from Mexico when I was 3 years old with my family. When I became a citizen, I fully embraced the American culture. Now that I’m older, I want to reimagine the part of my culture that was there, and I grew up with it,” Hector Garza said.
The piece represents various aspects of his life, including his version of the American dream.
“That Mexican-American mix is something that I’ve always known and something that I’m very proud of, and I like to use that in my work when I paint,” Hector Garza said. “The papel picado (decorative tissue paper) is very much San Antonio. It’s vibrancy. It’s culture. It’s everything that brings people together.”
Overall, Hector Garza said he wants to show that his work is inspired by several factors.
“I want to bring a multicultural level wherever I go as an artist, as an educator. I’m a little bit of everything,” he said.
Debra Gloria is also using her art to empower women. Through photography, she challenges society's views on censorship as well as women and love.
As the #MeToo movement continues, Gloria said the push to uplift women is also important in the art community.
"We need to be positive role models for the little girls out there who think they cannot, you know, express themselves and think this is dirty and nasty, because it's not. It's just beautiful art,” Gloria said.
Gloria was born in San Antonio and moved to Dallas in 1982. She now works out of her photography studio in the Deep Ellum neighborhood, just east of downtown Dallas. The community is known for its artsy and funky flair.
Gloria is sharing her 28 years of experience in the field of photography with others. As a board director for Arttitude, she helps the organization unite the LGBTQ and underserved communities and push for positive change and equality.
Two of Gloria's black and white photographs are featured in the show. Since the art concept was able to stop in her hometown of San Antonio, some of her family members were able to finally see her work.
"My niece is here supporting me. And for the first time, my mom is actually here supporting me, which means so much," Gloria said.
Gloria was also featured in a TedX Talk. You can check out her talk and her website by clicking here.
Trevino said the plan for Arttitude is to now grow exponentially.
“We have a project that has come up in Phoenix that we’re starting to look into, so we should be going there in October,” he said.
Flores said she thinks the show gives a platform to artists whose work may not be otherwise recognized in different shows.
“I would like our allies, our families, to see this work, and for artists, LGBTQ artists who are telling the story, to be validated. I think that there is currently an absence of women artists, and if there’s an absence of women artists, then there’s an absence of queer artists. There’s an absence of gender nonconforming artists … an absence of trans artists.”
The exhibit was made possible by partnerships with San Antonio organizations, including Galeria E.V.A., The Pride Center San Antonio, Kind Clinic and LULAC: Act Against AIDS.
The show is going on until Aug. 31 at Galeria E.V.A. on Flores Street.
The gallery is open from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. If you would like to schedule a viewing, call Beto at 210-737-4228 or Vero ar 210-737-4206.
Disclaimer: Some of the art displayed in the show may contain nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.