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San Antonio Open Studios

By Kathleen Cammarata

A coating of bright red powder on the insides of a pair of 100,000-year-old abalone shells is evidence of the oldest known art studio. Found in South Africa, the substance is the dried remains of a primitive form of paint made by combining ochre, crushed seal bones, charcoal, quartzite chips, and water. While relatively few ingredients were used in the ancient paint, each item had to be individually prepared: ochre pieces had to be ground into powder, bones had to be heated to release their oils, and wood had to be burned to create charcoal.

San Antonio Open Studios
Sat, Feb 20, and Sun, Feb 21, 11am-5pm
Throughout the San Antonio Colonia
More info:

Unlike utensils or other artifacts, paint has little utilitarian value. Paint was used to decorate objects, clothing, or the body, often to send a social message in an increasingly complex society.

In today’s modern studios one can still see artists mixing colors, making decorative objects, and designing clothing and jewelry for the body. The San Antonio Open Studios offers the art lover and collector the opportunity to visit 42 studios and 66 artists. There in the workshop, the visitor can see not only the finished product, but also the tools, tables, easels, and works in progress. One can have a conversation with the creator about his choice of colors, materials, and images, and participate by purchasing a painting, a sculpture, a necklace, or a decorative object. The works are diverse in their mediums and, as Clement Greenberg, the well-known art critic said, “… the inherent qualities are specific to each different artistic medium.” Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”

The San Antonio Open Studios is a volunteer event with a mission to support local artists and promote the arts in the community. This event is supported by 24 local businesses, thereby strengthening the ties in the community. A preview party will be held at Arroyo Gallery on Rinconada de La Aldea on Thursday, February 18, from 5 to 7pm, where each artist will display one sample of his work. Come enjoy a glass of wine and meet the artists.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, discover the myriad of material expressions by San Antonio artists and learn how they work and why they do what they do.  Printable maps are available at


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