PB-Art: New Corporate Citizen Pabst Becomes Platform for San Antonio Creatives
- Bryan rindfuss
- Local duo Los Otros celebrate the cycling community in the Pabst sponsored wall tour.
Pabst Brewing Co.’s move to San Antonio last fall generated a constant buzz.
But all that buzz can’t be attributed to the beers the conglomerate brews – hipster-endorsed Pabst Blue Ribbon and longtime local favorites Lone Star and Pearl among them. Much of the chatter centers around the artistic endeavors that have become a hallmark of the company’s 177-year-old modern era.
Pabst’s interest in the arts emerged in a way that Seamus Gallagher, Senior Brand Manager, describes as “organic”. Just as PBR was emerging as a buzzword in the early 2000s, creatives began approaching the brand to request sponsorship – for concerts, performances, and gallery openings – and Pabst agreed.
“The creative community kind of ran with it, and then we tried to catch up,” Gallagher explained. “There is so much [PBR] fan art there. The brand is showing up in pop music… It has happened organically and we are just trying to support it in any way we can.
Over the past two decades, that support has materialized in murals across the United States, gallery programs in New York and Los Angeles, and the annual Pabst Blue Ribbon Art Can competition – the winner of which wins. a considerable cash prize and has his works reproduced. out of around 30 million cans of beer.
In a short time in San Antonio, Pabst opened the Southtown PBR Studios gallery, partnered with artist duo Wide Awake to present the “In Living Pixels” pop-up exhibit at the Aztec Theater, and commissioned 10 new paintings. murals in collaboration with the San Antonio Street Art Initiative.
- Bryan rindfuss
- PBR Studios is hosting a group exhibition featuring artists from “The Mural Connection”.
Strike a pose
From some angles, it can seem like art is going through an identity crisis in the Instagram age. As Wired reported in the article titled “Selfie Factories: The Rise of the Made-for-Instagram Museum,” touring shows like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Color Factory drew crowds with puddles of candy and snow in human-sized globes, adult bullet pits, and whimsical installations that essentially function as selfie backdrops. On the other side of the coin, Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery unwittingly struck social media gold with its 2015 immersive “Wonder” exhibit. And art lovers using smartphones regularly line up to take their pictures, “discovering” the dazzling works of top-notch artists like Yayoi Kusama and James Turrell.
Much like San Antonio’s hopscotch – an “immersive art experience” with 14 interactive installations created by 40 artists – “In Living Pixels”, sponsored by Pabst, combined fun photo ops with more serious pricing. Produced by Wide Awake – a creative studio run by San Antonio-born Paloma Cortez and Pamela Rachél, the week-long show in early April featured “creative interpretations of the digital and natural world around them” by seven artists based in San Antonio.
In addition to posing in retro lounge chairs under a wall of neon-lit faux flowers and swinging along a grid of 18 mirrored security domes, guests could venture inside famed local artist Chris Jump. Know and see – a disorienting bedroom environment riddled with circular cutouts and curiously inhabited by a homemade telescope and a laptop streaming right-wing YouTube channels. Screenshots of memes and photographs of ants infected with the cordyceps fungus (aka “zombie parasites”) were projected outside and seeping through the cutouts. The historic venue itself, which boldly showcases Mesoamerican kitsch and a jaw-dropping three-ton chandelier, took the juxtaposition of playful and stimulating work even further.
- Bryan rindfuss
- Vibrant Angela Fox Mural Secrets of the wild woman.
Paint the city
Aligning more with creative consumers while amplifying his support for street artists, Pabst ushered in National Mural Day in 2019 and celebrated the occasion by ordering 17 murals in Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Austin , Atlanta, Nashville and beyond.
“We had done murals before,” said Moima Chowoe, Pabst’s community and social impact manager. “Public art and murals are a great way to connect with the artists of the city [and] promote creativity. ”
Shortly after moving to Alamo City from Detroit, Chowoe became familiar with the San Antonio Street Art Initiative, a non-profit organization featured by local meetups Shek Vega and Burgundy Woods.
“They did an amazing job and Shek is a great artist and collaborator,” Chowoe said. As Pabst was already gearing up for his first big visual push, partnering with SASAI was a no-brainer.
“We were really excited to hear them,” Vega admitted. “Have you seen what Pabst has been doing in other cities in the United States? They are quite active when it comes to supporting the arts. They bring a whole new dynamic to the arts, music and entertainment when they come to San Antonio. ”
After some planning meetings, the two entities designed “The Mural Connection” – an ambitious project connecting the River North and Southtown neighborhoods through a series of 10 new murals unveiled during a community art walk held on April 24. .
“It was a very quick turnaround – almost impossible,” said Vega. “But I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.” Regarding the selection process, SASAI turned to artists that Vega felt related to Pabst’s previous branding efforts. “They have this really cool, fun, edgy, quirky, character-driven [aesthetic] with their art cans, so we wanted to facilitate that.
Bringing together the local talents of Los Otros (Vega and fellow muralist Nik Soupe), Connie Chapa, Angela Fox and others, this aesthetic cuts across all murals except for one fitting wildcard: Gary Sweeney’s The artist’s profession. Presented as a companion to his installation Art is the stored honey of the human soul – a focal point in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art for 20 years now – Sweeney’s contribution uses salvaged signage to spell out a quote from provocative painter Francis Bacon: “The artist’s job is to always deepen the mystery.
“Pabst’s enthusiasm is pretty amazing,” Sweeney said of his experience working on “The Mural Connection”. As his piece was pre-existing, he didn’t feel quite the same pressure as some of the other participating artists. “Some of these other artists came up with some really cool stuff and it was a very short period of time,” Sweeny said.
A few blocks from a building Pabst plans to develop as a marketing office and art complex, Chapa and Fox have created long side-by-side murals that celebrate animals from vastly different perspectives. For both artists, the murals represent their greatest works to date.
Based on a previous painting commemorating the death of her beloved cat (title: Kevin in paradise), The wild woman’s fox secrets evokes a surreal dream sequence featuring a female figure, a flying orange feline, a scorpion and snakes.
“I have seen so many great photos and heard stories of little girls interacting with the painting [during the art walk]Fox said. “[They were] roar and talk about kittens!
Young champion of low-end art and pin-up culture, Chapa offers an anthropomorphic fantasy with Chiquitas, a sparkling storyline featuring a burlesque-inspired cat decked out in red heels and a fur-trimmed leotard, and a trio of capped doggies cruising in an Atomic Age convertible. Despite the obstacle of filling such a large space in a short period of time – not to mention the rain and sunburn in the process – Chapa says she loved her first foray into street art.
“I’m comfortable painting on a small scale, so when I first saw my wall I was filled with dread,” Chapa said. “I almost turned down the offer, but I knew it would be a great way to push myself as an artist. … In fact, I can’t wait to paint my next mural! Working with SASAI and Pabst has been such an honor and a pleasure. … I am eternally grateful to them for giving us jobs as we start to return there after the pandemic… and I can’t wait to see what other rad and exciting things they bring to the city.
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