Michael Mehl is an artist, photographer, and community organizer.
This piece ws originally published in the San Antonio Report. The photo is by Al Rendon, the words are by Michael Mehl.
Fotoseptiembre is an international festival of photographic arts located in and around San Antonio. We have two elements: the physical presence of the exhibits and a digital resource and archive of photographic arts.
We have an interest in increasing the community’s understanding of professionalism in the arts, not only in photography, but in all kinds of media. This contextual problem we have applies to all kinds of arts. San Antonio has an easy lifestyle for those of us who live here, but it lacks a competitive edge. It’s a legacy of our economic history. It’s an easy place to live for an artist, an easy place to produce art, but there isn’t the kind of dynamic market that will support the kind of values and prices that will sustain a career in arts. It’s part of the political environment, part of the educational environment.
I’m not saying that San Antonio is sub-par, but there hasn’t been a coalescing of economics in the arts that will lead to the a more dynamic and creative environment.
San Antonio is growing a community of entrepreneurs and creative businesses that could influence this trend. When you have it easy, there’s no need to be dynamic, so you don’t have to be competitive. I am seeing a change – there’s something new on the horizon. It could be due to a generational shift, I’m personally looking forward to how it will play out.