Alejandro Sifuentes is a metalsmith. His work can be found at the Equinox Gallery in La Villita. Mask by Caitie Sellers.
This piece ws originally published in the San Antonio Report. The photo is by Al Rendon, the words are by Alejandro Sifuentes.
Shamans were understood to have a special authority, a bridge to the higher presence, and they became the first jewelers, integrating elements with spirituality to create symbols of power. As a metalsmith, I try to honor that tradition, and listen to my higher power to direct my art. As time continues to pass, I more and more see that the art is not all about me – it is about us, and that’s why I moved my studio from a small one-person shop in Alamo Heights to La Villita.
I was very happy in Alamo Heights, but I was stagnant there, complacent. Coming to La Villita and Equinox was more of a community, a community based on profit, purpose, and people. Our business is sustained through the idea of unity, through “What I want for me, I want for you.” Profit is how we sustain the artist lifestyle, the act of realizing one’s purpose through art. Our customers come to La Villita because they like handmade things. They have enough stuff – they come here for an experience, to meet the artist, and we share an experience. The jewelry gives them something to remind them of the experience, to recycle the experience.
La Villita was the original place. Maury Maverick Sr.’s original plan was Art, Culture and Education. He was very progressive, the first mayor of San Antonio to win his office with a majority Hispanic vote. Mayor Maverick’s vision has a new life – he is a phoenix rising through the things evolving in La Villita.
Mayor Castro’s 2020 vision before he left was to put all these parts together to revitalize a cultural city. La Villita is San Antonio’s art village. In the past it has not fully expressed itself as an art village. Politics and a lack of consciousness caused it to become stagnant. La Villita is like Equinox on a larger scale: Everybody gets to sit at the table, everybody gets to eat, but you’ve got to bring something to the table, or this table is not going to work for you – there’s going to be another table somewhere else if you don’t find a place here.
I show up every day. Nothing keeps me from working. I have created a life through my process. Living and breathing and interaction with the world is all part of my practice – it’s not a separate thing. There’s something good waiting to happen and I’ve got to work to make it happen.
My practice and my uniqueness as an artist are based on a relationship with my self and a higher power – something larger that I can’t explain. I’m here to live my life authentically, compassionately, lovingly, truthfully, with integrity. I want to listen and have respect for my self and my practice and use my art to participate in an artistic community.