Slab Cinema Arthouse to open at Blue Star

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After nearly 20 years outside, Slab Cinema is coming back from the rain. Given an unexpected opportunity, the popular mobile movie theater will open a new brick and mortar space at the Blue Star Arts complex called Slab Cinema Arthouse, with events starting next week.

After a gala celebration for the bon vivant of San Antonio Mike Casey’s 80th anniversary hosted at the Espee in June, co-organizer Angela Martinez moved the art created for the event to an unoccupied space in the Blue Star complex for an informal spectacle.

The 1,700 square foot space was once the RC Gallery, run by Martinez’s friend Rhonda Kuhlman, who passed away in 2009. These old memories made the space welcoming, and the fact that it was available for rent. sparked the momentum Martinez and her husband Rick Martinez. , co-owners of Slab Cinema, needed to realize a long-standing idea of ​​opening an indoor theater.

Slab Cinema Arthouse located in Blue Star allows for flexible gallery space and movie screenings. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Now that the city’s inspections have just passed, Martinez is preparing to quickly schedule a program that will include “arthouse” films – a loose term that includes independent films, classic genre films. black and horror films, foreign films, cult films and films by local filmmakers. – as well as art exhibitions, live performances and themed events.

Until August, the pace will be slow, in part because of concerns about the impact of the Delta variant on public gatherings, and also to give the new space some tuning tests, Martinez said.

If things go as planned, the Slab Cinema Arthouse will make its public debut for the First Friday in September Art Walk at Blue Star with an art exhibit for the annual Fotoseptiembre multi-site photography exhibition.

Once up and running, the owners of Slab Cinema will return to the early days of their film adventure circa 2002, when they were playing public domain noir and horror films for small audiences.

“That’s how we started, with showing these arthouse films, and we got around 30 people,” a number they found perfectly acceptable at the time, Martinez said.

At the time, the screen was a simple blank sheet hanging on the wall, first in part of the La Tuna Ice House property nicknamed the Slab – from which the movie project got its name – then in the video store. of the Planet of the Tapes couple on Rue Sainte-Marie du Sud. Slab Cinema now averages 200 screenings per year on five portable screens.

Martinez sees herself and her husband as moviegoers rather than moviegoers, with the simple motivation to show the movies they wanted to see and to create a community of like-minded San Antonians.

This group eventually grew to reach up to 2,000 spectators per screening at their larger events, which currently range from Travis Park and Legacy Park in the downtown area, to La Cantera on the north side and Mission Marquee Plaza on the south side. . Outdoor programming will continue in addition to events in the new indoor space.

The new venue will comfortably accommodate up to 60 spectators, although it can be redeveloped for as little as 30 depending on the event. Blue velvet curtains decorate the space as a nod to David Lynch’s cult black thriller, and upholstered chairs and a sofa provide adequate seating for comfortable viewing.

The plan is to offer a limited weekly schedule of art exhibitions, live performances and films, and sometimes a combination of all three, if the elements are right, Martinez said. She gave the example of Casablanca, a classic film noir that would be the perfect opportunity to program a sweatshop, karaoke, thematic installation and the film itself.

Wiley Martinez, 19, son of Angela and Rick, also contributed by researching Chicano filmmakers, and acquiring vintage 8mm and 16mm film projectors.

Another coincidence that contributed to the good feeling Angela Martinez had when occupying Suite 134 at the Blue Star was the memory that she and Rick attended a party 19 years ago. They left early to go bowling at Hermann Sons, where she had her best game ever. Nine months pregnant with Wiley at the time, Angela gave birth as she walked home and gave birth to her son the same night.

“So this space has a really important role…” she said, pausing, distracted by another detail that awaited her attention as she prepared for the next chapter of Slab Cinema.

With the schedule still in development, Martinez recommended checking the Slab Cinema Arthouse Edition website for lineup updates, to include selections from the Janus Films collection.


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