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1950s Dreamhouses, Seriegraph Prints; and Punk Rock Playwrights

July 7, 2010

Drop by the special collections reading room in the John Peace Library to see our new exhibits for July-September. This summer, we’re highlighting architecture and interior design catalogs, screenprints from the newly acquired Serie Project collection, and documents from the personal papers of San Antonio playwright (and one-time rock singer) Sterling Houston.

Before the internet, there were…catalogs! Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, product catalogs were essential to aspiring homebuilders, architects, and interior designers. Suppliers used innovative illustration techniques, prose stories, and even jokes to persuade potential buyers of the value of their products. On display are a number of different sizes and styles of catalogs, from a index-card-size pamphlet with line-engravings of fireplaces, to a 70+ page, full-color catalog of Garlinghouse blueprints.

The Serie Project, based in Austin, is dedicated to the art of seriegraphy (known in its industrial form as screen printing). Each year between ten and eighteen artists in residence produce limited edition seriegraphs. In collaboration with the Office of the President, the UTSA Libraries recently acquired a full set of prints from the first seventeen years of the project, from 1993-2010. Many of the participating artists are of Latin American descent or hail from Central and South Texas. This collection provides valuable documentation of artistry in the San Antonio region.

Originally from San Antonio, Sterling Houston studied acting in New York before heading west to San Francisco, where he performed for several years in the rock and roll band, Fleshtones. Fleshtones’ musical aesthetic drew on sources as diverse as punk rock and 1950s western film soundtracks. In 1981, Houston returned to San Antonio to join his family’s real estate business, where he became involved in local community and professional theater as an actor, director, and producer. Two years later, he expanded his range of artistic expression by starting to write plays. Among those who recognized the promise in Houston’s work was the poet Maya Angelou, who wrote several encouraging letters during the early years of his writing, and later collaborated with him to write a music-and-spoken-word piece entitled On the Pulse of the Morning.

Highlights from these three collections are on display in the special collections reading room in the John Peace Library. Come take a look anytime during our regular hours, 9AM-4pm Monday-Thursday.

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