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Arts / Museums

Wild Disco Inferno Makes This Anything But Just Another San Antonio Night

Inside the Craziest Art Party of the Year — Dueling DJs, Manic Roller Skaters and a 1970s Vibe

BY // 06.07.19

What: Artpace’s The Happening: Diskoteka Nite

Where: Artpace in San Antonio

PC Moment: San Antonio’s premier contemporary art institution, Artpace, threw its annual – and biggest – fundraising event of the year, The Happening. This installment with a ’70s twist was chaired and designed by Artpace artist alum Cruz Ortiz and wife Olivia Ortiz, and board vice chair Janet Flohr and husband Bruce Flohr.

This particular gala evening was titled Diskoteka Nite, crafted to be a glamorous, cheeky, glitzy, even campy homage to disco culture – think hot pink outfits, bell bottoms, fur, sequins, and a dance floor overseen by a mirror ball.

Artpace honored Trevor Paglen, a former artist-in-residence, in recognition of his success and acclaim in the contemporary art world, alongside collectors and philanthropists Lee Anthony and J. Travis Capps Jr. for their longstanding commitment to San Antonio arts.

Diskoteka Nite’s main goal was to raise money towards its International Artist-in-Residence program, a flagship for which Artpace is renowned. The evening began in disco style with a chic cocktail hour at the Artpace galleries flanked by work from Spring 2019 artists-in-residence Sama Alshaibi (from Tucson, Arizona), Jennifer Ling Datchuk (a hometown talent), and Roshini Kempadoo (via London).

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Guest curator Deborah Willis, in from New York, hand-picked the trio’s artwork which made for a unique and powerful backdrop.

Act two was the seated dinner in the subterranean ballroom of the Westin, served in the lower level of the building next door. The crowd of 350 guests in their disco finery were escorted to the building by a phalanx of memorable roller skaters. The menu curated by Don Strange Catering was an ode to the regional cooking of San Antonio, including chile de arbol mesquite grilled beef tenderloin, and grilled chicken with mango pico de gallo. Prickly pear gelatin paired with a key lime tart made for a Southwest-style dessert. Clase Azul Tequila fueled the signature ‘ritas.

The final act was Disko Bomba, the dance party underwritten by honorees Lee Anthony and J. Travis Capps Jr. The turntables were manned by dual DJs JJ Lopez and Augusto Cuellar who held court on the ones and twos.

All told, Diskoteka Nite added more than $260,000 towards Artpace’s trio of missions – funds used for its acclaimed residencies, as well as local outreach, and community education.

PC Seen: Artpace director Riley Robinson; and assistant development director Amy Austin; board chair gallerist Patricia Ruiz-Healy and husband Juan Ruiz-Healy; fellow board members Holly Tupper and Joyce D. Slocum; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg with wife Erika Prosper Nirenberg; Texas-based art consultant Jana Cothren; auctioneer Christy Williams Coombs of Sotheby’s who wielded the gavel during the live auction; artist/UT professor and board member Margo Sawyer, in from Elgin, Texas; master printmaker Mark Smith, formerly of Flatbed Press, now owner of Texas Art House in Johnson City; Karlos Anzoategui, better known as “Karlos-with-a-K,” the truly eccentric S.A. hairdresser; a Houston contingent of party-goers including board member Cynthia Toles, Lisa Mount, and Nancy and Erik Littlejohn (her eponymous gallery represents Cruz Ortiz); and last year’s co-chairs San Antonio-based artists Ethel Shipton and Nate Cassie.

Save the date: Artpace’s 25th anniversary, The Happening, Saturday, March 21, 2020.

Additional reporting by Catherine D. Anspon.

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