Twenty-One Silent Stages: A Ballad

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere

In Residence: Jan 25 – Mar 27, 2021

Exhibition: Mar 25 – May 16, 2021

The multifold practice of Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artists Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere spans two decades of projects that actuate music and sound, radio, dissent, and the cultural complexities of the public sphere. The artists have produced works in video installation, lyric writing, performance, and photography. Their research interests lie in the intersections of music, civic action, and historical moments that resonate through distinct musical instrumentation, sonorous traditions, and social forms.

The duo’s Artpace project, entitled Twenty-One Silent Stages: A Ballad, responds to the life-changing events brought about by this generation’s pandemic in ways that envision silence, emptiness, and voids in cultural and social spaces. The artists’ work has often involved collaborations with musicians, radio practitioners, and city agencies. Yet, due to the pandemic, Nevarez and Tevere have contemplated a restructuring of their practice and have spent time in San Antonio reflecting on such transitions and new possibilities.

On view in the gallery are a series of photographs and a prominently placed stage. The artists photographed the empty and silent stages of 20 San Antonio music venues, performance spaces, and theaters that went dark during 2020 and 2021. The venues include The Bang Bang Bar, Carver Community Cultural Center, Cowboys Dancehall, Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice, The Lonesome Rose, Mission Marquee Plaza, and Paper Tiger, among other local favorites, some of which may close permanently as a result of substantial financial losses.

The circular stage constructed in the center of the gallery is much like the venues captured in the duo’s photographs—it is empty and silent. The stage-as-structure suggests the activation of bodies, voices, instruments, and props that once signified communal social experiences. The empty stages portrayed in the photo series do not merely query the effects of the pandemic on performance venues but also the entirety of their related institutions: the musicians, performers, stagehands, audio engineers, and office staff whose creative and financial livelihoods depend upon the activities and opportunities of performance.

For Artpace’s lobby, Nevarez and Tevere created and installed Side Effects, a neon sign with green, blue, and red alternating text reading “postponed,” “rescheduled,” and “canceled”— words that many artists were intimately familiar with in 2020 and continuing well beyond. While “rescheduled” and “canceled” illuminate and then disappear, the word “postponed,” lit up in reen, is legible whether illuminated or not, underscoring the residual effects of such postponements on the past, present, and future.

Twenty-One Silent Stages: A Ballad and Side Effects simultaneously mark the social, cultural, and economic impact of COVID-19 on both macro levels (cities) and micro levels (the artists’ practice). Viewers are invited to the gallery to encounter the reverberating silence and consider the very potential of empty stages, postponements, and cancelations, and what could be possible when people gather and performers take the stage once again.

The artists would like to thank Gary Nichols of Hare and Hound Press, Ray Lynch of Affordable Neon, and the Artpace team for their work which made this exhibition possible.

Photo Credit: Beth Devillier
3D Tour: Chris Mills

View the Gallery Notes


Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere have exhibited and screened their work at the Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Creative Time, New Museum, and Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York; Manifesta 8/Spain; Museo de arte Raúl Anguiano, Guadalajara, Mexico; Casino Luxembourg; Henie Onstad Art Center, Høvikodden, Norway; Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol, Innsbruck, Austria; and elsewhere. The first U.S. survey of their work was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, in 2016. 

They have received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, Harpo Foundation, Art Matters, National Endowment for the Arts, and Franklin Furnace. Both Nevarez and Tevere were Studio Fellows in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, as well as artists-in-residence at the International Artists Studio Program in Stockholm, Sweden (IASPIS); Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY; and Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA. Upcoming residencies and projects include Marble House Project in Dorset, VT, and Antenna in New Orleans, LA. 

Angel Nevarez (b. Mexico City, Mexico) is a musician and teaches at Parsons School of Design, New York. Valerie Tevere (b. Chicago, IL) received an MFA in photography from California Institute of the Arts and is Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York (CUNY).   

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Gilbert Vicario

Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Gilbert Vicario is Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and The Selig Family Chief Curator at the Phoenix Art Museum since October 2015. Gilbert has over 20 years of curatorial experience having worked at institutions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He oversees a six member curatorial team in the departments of American art, Asian art, Fashion Design, Latin American art, Photography, in addition to his role as curator of modern and contemporary art. Upcoming exhibitions include Stories of Abstraction: Contemporary Latin American Art in the Global Context. His most recent exhibition Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, includes stops at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Palm Springs Art Museum in California. In 2006, Vicario was named U.S. Commissioner for the International Biennale of Cairo by the U.S. Department of State for the exhibition Daniel Joseph Martinez: The Fully Enlightened Earth Radiates Disaster Triumphant, and he was a participating curator in the 2007 Lyon Biennial: The History of a Decade That Has Not Yet Been Named. In addition to Phoenix Art Museum publications, Vicario has contributed internationally to numerous exhibition publications commissioned by Musea Brugge, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Heard Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea di Milano, as well as with Radius Books, Santa Fe and Hatje Cantz Verlag. Vicario is a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (MA, 1996) and the University of California, San Diego (BA, 1989).
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