The little church that could has a long history of feeding San Antonio's poor. But, it was an appeal from a local artist that helped keep the pantry stocked for the hungry since 1963.
That's when inspired local artist, Jesse Sanchez, made an appeal to Little Church of La Villita officials. According to the Knights of Columbus, in 1963 Sanchez
praised the downtown church for its efforts in feeding San Antonio's poor. He said since they were so good at helping out the hungry, how about helping out hungry artists. That's how the Starving Artist Art Show and Easter Parade was conceived. At first, all items sold by the local artists could cost no more than $5. That rule no longer applies and artists are just asked to keep their prices reasonable.
In 1976, Cleo Edmunds stepped into the shoes of pastor for the little non-denominational church that sits across from the Arneson River Theatre. She has been coordinating the Starving Artist Art Show. For several years all items sold by the local artists could cost no more than $5. Ten percent of their proceeds plus the registration fees went to the Little Church of La Villita to keep their food pantry stocked. The Knights of Columbus serves up beef and chicken fajitas and cold drinks at the event. They donate 50 percent of the proceeds to the church in support of its efforts.
In its heyday, the Starving Artist Show featured over 1,000 artists, Edmunds explained. She described out booths lined both sides of the River Walk, 300 artists set-up in HemisFair Park and the rest crowded along the stone walkways of La Villita.
In 2008, the City of San Antonio nixed the Starving Artist Show in lieu of the Final Four. When it did return in 2010, it took place at the San Antonio Housing Authority park on South Flores.
This year's event, held April 7 and 8, marked the 50th anniversary of the Starving Artist Show. It also marked its return to its original location surrounding the
Little Church of La Villita, said Andy Cordona with the Knights of Columbus. About 270 artists displayed paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, folk art weavings, and whirley gigs.
But the 50-year tradition may be folding up its easel for the last time. Edmunds was hesitant to talk about the details. But, what she did say was that things may not bode well for the event that inspired so many other local art shows. Edmunds said the final decision will be reached after they meet with city officials in the weeks to come.