As told to John Nova Lomax.
Ana Fernandez: There’s a freedom here because we are off the radar. You feel like you have privacy. You’re like, “Ah, I can just make a bunch of paintings here. It’s cool.” When you live in L.A., you’re always around other creative people, and that’s great. I love being around other creative people. But when I’m here, I feel like it’s wide open.
Cruz Ortiz: I haven’t lived in a lot of places, but I’ve traveled everywhere, and there’s an amazing depth to San Antonio. I pride myself on having several cantina crawls on my list. I have a Thursday night one. It’s insane. There are parrots involved. I was having a conversation with Sandra Cisneros—she’s from Chicago, but San Antonio is where she did much of her writing. And we’ve talked about this, about how there’s something charming about this town, and that’s a historically weird word to use about a city, but there’s definitely depth here.
AF: I like the family vibe. It’s like a warm bath. I feel like when I am making art, it’s not comfortable sometimes. It’s very solitary. So it’s nice to be able to walk out of my house and hang out with my sister’s family or my friends or my friends’ families.
CO: If I were to think about why I love San Antonio, I think I would say it’s because it has culture. It’s very rare to see a city with culture; I think of old cities like Boston and New Orleans. Those have culture. I think San Antonio’s like that. You can’t keep building huge high-rises when right down the street there are five Spanish missions from 1700-something-or-other. That’s like, whoa, that’s old.
AF: Everything here is undisturbed, like the signage you see. It’s just—it is what it is. In Austin, everything I see is overly done. It seems like they appropriate old signage to make it . . . what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, it’s ironic for them. Like, “Oh, look at this sign that I have.” There’s no irony in this town.
CO: There is no irony in San Antonio.
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