Rebel with a Cause: A Celebration of the Literary Life of Gregg Barrios

Gemini Ink’s 21st Inkstravaganza—A Special Weekend Event!

Author Photo by Luis M. Garza for New York Foundation for the Arts

Let’s come together to celebrate the amazing life and literary journey of Gregg Barrios. What better cause this year than to honor this legendary playwright, poet, filmmaker, activist, teacher, and journalist, whose passion for the arts was contagious! A literary rebel bar-none, whom we sadly lost this August, Gregg lifted up so many writers through his example, advocacy, literary criticism, and mentoring. It’s time to shine a light on the full impact of his artistic achievements.

Don’t miss a special weekend celebration of Barrios’ storied career that took him from Victoria, TX, to Andy Warhol’s New York, and back to our beloved San Antonio! To honor Gregg’s irrepressible creative force, the Gemini Ink staff and gala committee have put the “extra” into this year’s Inkstravaganza and ask you to join us for an unforgettable celebration in honor of this “Texas Treasure.” It all kicks off at the McNay Art Museum’s Moroccan Courtyard on Friday, October 15th, from 6:30-8:30pm, with our imaginatively interpreted, open air “Jardín de Artes,” and continues the next night, with a star-packed virtual show. Don’t miss special appearances by 2015 U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, activist Rosie Castro, poet Luis J. Rodriguez, Texas State Legislator Emeritus Robert R. Alonzo, and more! Over this two-part event, (let’s call it Act One and Act Two), you’ll be able to catch up with old and new friends and come together to celebrate the artist-activist, Gregg Barrios.

Garden Party at the McNay Art Museum
Friday, October 15, 6:30-8:30 pm

(Rain or Shine! In case of rain, this event will move into the large AT&T Lobby and adjacent Reception Hall at the McNay. This is a lovely high-ceilinged and well-ventilated space that will allow us to continue our celebration uninterrupted. We will be asking guests to follow CDC guidelines and wear masks and will be serving food in a COVID secure manner. This is not a sit-down event and will be a reception-style gathering with a limited number of guests attending.) 

Star-Packed Virtual Show
Saturday, October 16, 7-8 pm

Award for Literary Excellence
Gregg Barrios, In Memoriam

Honorary Co-Chairs
Rosie Castro, Civil Rights Activist & Educator
Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus

Marisela Barrera, Writer & Performer

Moderator for the Virtual Show
Clay Smith, Literary Director of the San Antonio Book Festival

Autograph Series Committee
Marisela Barrera, Sheila Black, Norma Cantú, George Cisneros, Ellen Riojas Clark, Jean Hackett, Christopher L. Martinez, Patricia Portales, William Razavi, Natalia Treviño, Alexandra van de Kamp, Elaine Wolff, Susan Yerkes

About Gregg Barrios

Gregg Barrios was a first-generation playwright, poet and journalist. He was also a graphic digital artist and filmmaker. His award-winning plays were produced in San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Provincetown, and New York City. He received a Rockefeller Grant, a Mark Taper – CTG Fellowship, and an Artist Foundation of San Antonio Grant for his theater work. The San Antonio Current has called him “A Texas Treasure.”

Barrios’ journalism has appeared in The New York Times, Film Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Film Culture, Los Angeles Times, and the Texas Observer. He was a former books editor and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. He was a founding editor of the local Spanish language daily Rumbo, and an editor of La Verdad, the Raza Unida Party newspaper. Barrios received a USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship in 2013, and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2015. He received a Golden Gavel for his literary work from the Texas House of Representatives, and was the 2015 Fall Visiting Writer at Our Lady of the Lake University. He served on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle.

Barrios credits his time at Andy Warhol’s original Factory as transformational. He made an experimental film, BONY (1967), with/about Warhol “superstars” poets Gerard Malanga and art critic René Ricard. He later collaborated with Warhol on a Nico music video. His short film Desperately Seeking Dionysus (1968) was part of the Velvet Underground NYC exhibit in 2018. Excerpts from Barrios’ original Bowie-inspired rock musical Stranger in a Strange Land (1976) were featured in Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists… exhibited at Blue Star Contemporary, also in 2018. In 2019, the Austin Film Society honored Barrios for “bringing film culture to Austin through Cinema 40 Film Society” that he founded as a UT student in 1965. Recently, his digital photography was part of the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture at the Centro de Artes exhibition for the New York Foundation of the Arts. 

Barrios published four poetry collections: Air-Conditioned Apollo (1968); Healthy Self (1979); Puro Rollo (1982); and La Causa (2010). His poetry has appeared in Hecho en Tejas, Latina Magazine, Harvard Review, Aztlan and Vietnam, Fiesta en Aztlan, New Orleans Review, and Home Front: An America at War Reader, Lowrider, and El Quetzal Emplumece. An anthology of his poetry “My Life: The Poem I Never Wrote: New & Selected Poetry 1968-2021” (Hansen Poetry) is scheduled for publication in 2021. 

Barrios served in the USAF as a combat medic during the Vietnam War. He appeared in “Telling SA,” The Tobin Center’s theater production, and on the PBS national broadcast of San Antonio veterans. He was a Harvard Fellow in 2017 and a Yale Fellow in 2019. Recently, he endowed Urban-15’s Mega Corazon with the Gregg Barrios Beautiful Words Prize for the Best Poetry Performance. His new play “Hard Candy: The Life and Times of Candy Barr” will premiere at the Gregg Barrios Theater at Overtime in early 2022. 

Past Inkstravaganza Honorees

Cary Clack
Carrie Fountain
Tomás Ybarra Frausto
Jan Jarboe Russell
Coleen Grissom
Nan Cuba
Carmen Tafolla
Barbara Ras
John Phillip Santos
Lee Robinson
Jerald Winakur
Steven G. Kellman
Abraham Verghese
David Liss
Sterling Houston
Robert Flynn
Wendy Barker
Naomi Shihab Nye
Rosemary Catacalos