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The Blue Star Arts Complex sits on the San Antonio River on South Alamo at Probandt. Part of the River Walk’s new Mission Reach and deep in the heart of King William, most people find Blue Star during a First Friday foray.

Personally, I enjoy Blue Star when it’s not so crowded. I recommend starting off at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center to take in their latest exhibit. (Be sure to pay your respects to Chuck Ramirez before leaving.) Now through Aug. 18, 2012, you will be able to see “San Antonio Painters,” a show curated by Barbara MacAdams, deputy editor of ARTnews magazine. When my husband and I were there, we saw a fabulous show by Japanese artists titled “Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan” that was organized by the Japan Foundation.

My favorite piece was Miyuki Yokomizo’s “Please Wash Away,” which used glycerin soap and shower curtains to create a beautiful piece of art. Work by Tetsuya Nakamura, Maywa Denki, Satoshi Hirose and Katsuhiro Saiki also caught my eye.

“Juanito,” an exploration of the life and art of musician Juanito Castillo, by Photographer/Filmmaker/Media Artist Guillermina Zabala was also on display. Juanito was Esteban “El Parche” Jordan‘s protégé. I haven’t heard Juanito in person, but I saw Steve Jordan many times. He wasn’t called the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion for nothing. Though I’m sad Steve is no longer with us, I’m thrilled that Juanito calls San Antonio home. The dude has talent for days.

After getting your fill of contemporary art, stroll over to San Angel Folk Art. Bring your purse/wallet. You won’t walk out empty-handed. Jewelry you’ll not find anywhere else, kick-A guayaberas, calaveras, Virgen of Guadalupes, one-of-a-kind folk art and more could be yours. Don’t forget to tell San Angel’s feathered friends hello while you’re there.

From San Angel, you’ll pass by Jump-Start Performance Company, a fine and performing arts laboratory that supports new ideas in the arts and arts education. Their doors also happen to make a great background for an engagement photo. I’ve been to several productions at Jump-Start, flamenco included, and I look forward to a new run this fall of “Ebenazio: A Winter’s Tale of Old San Anto,” a play written and produced by Kim Corbin, Robert Rehm and Chuck Squier. The play opens on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 16. Showtime is 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. No show on Friday, Dec. 7, First Friday. Call (210) 227-5867 for tickets.

While you’re in the Blue Star complex, do not miss StoneMetal Press Printmaking Center. I hope you have some empty walls, because you’re going to be able to fill them up real soon. They’ve recently moved locations, and they’ll be having a grand opening before long. StoneMetal also offers classes, like silk screening and wood cutting, so stay in their loop.

I recommend that you end your Blue Star Arts Complex visit at the Blue Star Brewing Company. After perusing all of that art, you’ll have worked up a hunger and a thirst. Blue Star also has a bike shop, so if you wanted to, you could rent a bike and explore more of the Mission Reach on the San Antonio River Walk. Or you could save the exploring for another day and just enjoy a burger and a brew at the Blue Star. I had their Stout, and it was indeed creamy and robust. The burger was also very yummy.

All in all, Blue Star Arts Complex is definitely a place that locals and visitors need to frequent. It’s something that San Antonio has that no other city does. ¡Viva San Antonio!