Driving up and down Fredericksburg Road south of 410, you would never suspect that the neighborhoods flanking this urban artery are positively teeming with artists’ studios and a growing number of arts venues. But over the past 10 years the area has slowly grown into a significant arts destination, thanks largely to the efforts of the artists themselves and Kellen Kee McIntyre, the executive director of the Bihl Haus Arts gallery and arts center.

Each February, Bihl Haus organizes a popular, multifaceted event called On and Off Fred Road Studio Tour that promotes the artists living and working in the area, brings people from all over San Antonio to visit the old neighborhoods and contributes to the revitalization of the Fredericksburg Road corridor. The 2017 event starts Feb. 17 with an opening party and exhibit at the gallery (2803 Fredericksburg Road), and continues through the weekend, Feb. 18-19, with a total of about 250 visual artists participating. All studio visits are free, but you have to buy the $10 catalog to know where to go and what to see. It’s well worth the expense. Handsomely produced and informative, it’s a keepsake and a handy reference book.

cityscene-artist-dora-orejel-photo-by-eric-lane

“It’s a wonderful event,” says McIntyre, an indefatigable arts advocate. “You get the chance to visit the artists’ personal space, meet them, talk to them, see how they work, what they collect, which books they read, the kids, the cat… Long-term relationships have developed between artists and visitors who return year after year.”

Among the participating artists are well-known names such as Danville Chadbourne, Jane Dunnewold, Ben Mata, David Zamora, Laurel Gibson, JD Morera, Kathleen Trenchard, Dora Orejel, Margaret Cook and many more who were not yet on the list at the time of this writing.

Besides Bihl Haus, other venues in the area will also host group shows, including Deco Pizzeria, the Woodlawn and Classic Theaters, Beat St. Coffee Co. and others. Poets and musicians will enliven the proceeding throughout the weekend.

I can’t think of a pleasanter way to spend a weekend afternoon and maybe go home with a new piece of original art that you just fell in love with. (www.onandofffred.org).

On Other Fronts
As some of you may know, I love ballet and dance in general, so I am excited by a couple of great companies ARTS San Antonio is bringing to town in January. First up on Jan. 12 is Bale Folclorico da Bahia’s Sacred Heritage, which is a showcase for the exuberant Brazilian folkloric dances of African origin. According to Arts San Antonio, this group of 38 dancers is the only professional folk dance company in Brazil. They will be followed by the Compagnie Herve Koubi on Jan. 28, an ensemble of all-male Algerian and African dancers performing an original contemporary work by Koubi, a French-Algerian choreographer. These guys will blow you away. Don’t miss them! (www.artssa.org). For something more classical, you can look forward to Ballet San Antonio’s production of Sleeping Beauty, scheduled for Feb. 17-19. (www.balletsanantonio.org).

International flavors will definitely dominate Musical Bridges Around the World’s (MBAW) fourth International Music Festival featuring musicians from Indonesia, Cuba, Argentina, Armenia, Spain and Canada. Talk about a diverse group! Exposing San Antonio audiences to music of other cultures has been the core goal of the organization since it was founded 19 years ago by Russian-born pianist Anya Grokhovski. The 2017 concerts will take place between Feb. 12 and 26 at various venues around town.

From authentic American gospel groups and Cuban-born Latin Grammy winner Gonzalo Rubalcaba to extraordinary Canadian cellist Zoe Keating and the contemporary Argentinian tango band of J.P. Jofre, the fest promises one musical treat after another. And in honor of the San Antonio Symphony’s Mozart Festival, MBAW will also present the Mozart Extravaganza, featuring arias from the composer’s best-loved operas sung by vocalists from the Houston Grand Opera Studio. (www.musicalbridges.org)

By JASMINA WELLINGHOFF