ABI-SPI moves forward after vehicle destroys storefront


A tow truck operator prepares to remove a car crashed into ABI-SPI’s storefront on Mar. 24. Photo by Gaige Davila.

By Gaige Davila 

The Art Business Incubator (ABI-SPI), like many in the Laguna Madre area, has had quite a year. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new crop of resident artists and upcoming events, a car crashed into ABI-SPI’s building last week. The front door is destroyed, and a crack now runs along the entire front wall. 

Alexa Ray, ABI-SPI’s Executive Director, says the program, while fruitful, has had a trial in the last year. 

“We have COVID, then we had that freeze, and now we have this (accident), and it just feels like it’s a test of my managerial skills,” Ray said. “It’s been really tough, but luckily all the artists are really awesome and understanding.” 

Ray received an alert on her phone from the building’s alarm system around 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday. Because there had been many false alarms before, Ray did not initially take the notification seriously. Until a friend sent a photo of several police cars outside of ABI-SPI.

Ray arrived to a blue Hyundai lodged against ABI-SPI’s front door, with the driver arrested a short time before.  

According to a South Padre Island police report, officers attempted to pull over the Hyundai, when the driver crashed the car into ABI-SPI. The report does not disclose if officers were pursuing the car or how the driver crashed into the building’s storefront. The driver was taken to a local hospital, the report reads, and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless driving and driving with a suspended/invalid license. 

Since the accident, the front of ABI-SPI has been walled off, with the back door the only entrance and exit of the office and gallery. Within a week or two, ABI-SPI will have a new, high security door. 

Carol Plumb, ABI-SPI resident artist, shows a color study for a future painting from her workspace. Photo by Gaige Davila.

In the meantime, ABI-SPI’s new resident artists are working, preparing business plans, experimenting and, of course, creating.

This year’s cohort includes Carol Plumb, Christina Piecuch, Kristi Abbott, Ivan Benavidez, Melia Quinn and Hamsa. Andres Aceves, a ceramics artist from last year’s cohort, graduates this May. 

Ray said she feels more confident in preparing this year’s cohort for life after graduation from ABI-SPI, after leading her first class last year. 

“It’s a lot more work than most artists are ever confronted with,” Ray said. “It’s a lot more dedication and that’s what a lot of the artists like about it.” 

This year, ABI-SPI is pushing the artists to focus more on creating businesses with their art, and if they are promoting themselves within the community and beyond. 

Cristina Piecuch, ABI-SPI resident artist, stands near her work, “The Hardest Question,” in ABI’SPI’s gallery. Photo by Gaige Davila.

The artists are already taking classes from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley’s (UTRGV) Entrepreneurship program.

“I definitely think we’ve opened the eyes of not only (Laguna Madre area) locals but locals in the RGV,” Ray said. “At the very least, the City of South Padre Island is trying to boost the art economy.”

She continued, “we’re so much busier than last year, which is a good sign.” 

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.portisabelsouthpadre.com/2021/04/05/abi-spi-moves-forward-after-vehicle-destroys-storefront/

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