University of Texas San Antonio

A Guide to the Gene Elder Papers, 1943-2015



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Elder, Gene Wesley 1949 -
Title: Gene Elder Papers
Dates: 1943-2015
Creator Abstract: Gene Elder is an artist, writer, and activist who moved to San Antonio, Texas in the 1970s and became an integral part of the city's art community.
Content Abstract: The Gene Elder papers document Elder's work as an artist, writer, and activist through journals, original works of art, exhibit materials, articles written by Elder, and correspondence. Personal papers and photographs augment Elder's professional materials. Other records document Elder's professional ventures at Blue Star Art Complex and as Archivist at the Happy Foundation Archives.
Identification: MS 428
Extent: 24 linear feet (25 boxes)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections

Biographical Note

Gene Elder was born to Billie and James M. Elder on July 4, 1949 in Dallas, Texas. In the 1970s, Elder attended Trinity University in San Antonio where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. While at Trinity, Elder met San Antonio business entrepreneur Arthur "Hap" Veltman who became Elder's colleague and friend and played an instrumental role in the trajectory of Elder's life. In 1973 Gene went to work for Veltman who was the silent owner of the San Antonio Country, one of the largest gay discos in the United States. During his management of the disco, Elder squared off against the military who moved to make the San Antonio Country off-limits. Elder's encounter with the military's infringement on gay rights intensified his commitment to activism.

In the 1980s, Elder's association with Veltman continued. Gene Elder managed Blue Star Art Complex which Veltman and business associate, Bernard Lifshutz had purchased in 1985. When Veltman passed away in 1988, Elder became the director of the Happy Foundation Archives housed in the Bonham Exchange night club and named for Hap Veltman. The Happy Foundation serves as a repository for local, regional, and national GLBT history.

Elder's commitment to the preservation of queer history is underpinned by his activist inclinations, a trait he displayed early on. This trait is often manifest in Elder's artistic expression through original artwork, exhibits, written work, and performance pieces. Elder's drive to merge art and activism compelled him to run for mayor of San Antonio under the banner of the "Party Party" in 1979. As artist-activist, Elder has stood firmly in his support of local artists and art, first providing a venue for local artists at his MUD gallery on the river during the mid-1970s, then promoting multi-artist exhibits during the 1980s such as Loaded, Artist as Administrator ,and Power to the Pulp.


Scope and Content Note

The Gene Elder Papers document Elder's work as an artist, activist and writer. Twenty-one journals are a highlight of the collection, each one chronicling different years in the artist's life. Included in the journals are original works of art, commentaries by Elder, correspondence, photographs, exhibit notices, and other items documenting the art scene in San Antonio and the life of the artist. Personal papers and photographs document ties between Elder, his family, and friends. The collection has been arranged into the following series: Journals, Art, Personal, Activism, and Assorted. While each series constitutes a specific type of materials, overlap of categories is often present.


Organization of Collection

Journals
Art
Personal
Activism
Professional
Assorted

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public.

This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.

Usage Restrictions

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.


Index Terms

Personal Names
Elder, Gene Wesley, 1949 -
Organizations
Subjects
Activism/Activists--Texas--San Antonio.
Artists--Texas--San Antonio.
Gays--Texas--San Antonio.
Locations
San Antonio (Tex.)
Genres/Formats
Art.
Correspondence.
Photographs.
Local Subjects
Activism/Activists
Art/Artists
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resources

Related Material

The Amistad Research Center holds approximately 2 linear feet of Gene Elder materials related to his work as an artist and activist.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gene Elder Papers, MS 428, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

Received from Gene Elder in October 2014 (Accession 2014-31), December 2014 (Accession 2014-043), February 2015 (2015-010) and June 2015 (2015-020).

Processing Information

Collection was processed in November and December 2014 by Melissa Gohlke, Library Assistant. Additions were processed in March and June 2015 by Melissa Gohlke.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Journals

The journals contain original works of art by Elder and other artists, exhibit invitations, correspondence, articles, photographs, and commentary by Elder placing contents in context. Journals are organized chronologically.
Box
OM1 Volume 1, February 1974-May 1975
Box
OM2 Volume 2, June 1975-June 1976
Box
OM3 Volume 3, November 1976-August 1977
Box
OM4 Volume 4, September 1977-November 1977
Box
OM5 Volume 5, November 1977-February 1978
Box
OM6 Volume 6, February 1978-June 1978
Box
OM7 Volume 7, June 1978-July 1979
Box
OM8 Volume 8, August 1979-August 1980
Box
OM9 Volume 9, August 1980-April 1981
Box
OM10 Volume 10, April 1981-October 1981
Box
OM11 Volume 11, October 1981-May 1982
Box
OM12 Volume 12, May 1982-March 1983
Box
OM13 Volume 13, April 1983-April 1984
Box
5 Volume 14, April 1984-October 1985
Box
OM14 Volume 15, October 1985-November 1986
Box
OM16 Volume 16, December 1986-February 1988
Box
OM15 Volume 17, January 1988-September 1988
Box
OM17 Volume 18, October 1988-July 1989
Box
6 Volume 19, July 1989-February 1990
Box
7 Volume 20, February 1990-February 1991
Box
8 Volume 21, February 1991-October 1992
Box
9 Volume 22, July 1993-April 1995, 2014-2015
Box
4 Wire ring journal, 1970-1972
Unbound, 1993



Art

Box
1 Artwork
Large Lipstick tax permit,1974
Slides and photographs of artwork,1979-1989 and undated
Yard art,1982
Paletticians,1987
Conceptual Art, 1988-2003
Pi in the Sky,1991
Handmade paper, 1991 and undated
Computer art, 1993
Closet,1993
San Antonio Art League catalog,1994
Constellation,1995
Outskirts,1996
Collage art,1997
Photo manipulation,1997
Painted wooden tags, 2004
Computer art, undated
Box
3 Fairies Fiasco, 1974-2014
Trademark-The Big Tomato,1974-2000
MUD on the River, 1976-1978
Resume,1981
Cassettes: Loaded exhibit, John Shown/Margaret Stanley interview, assorted,1984-1989, 2014 and undated
Assorted articles,1992-1993
Maverick MFA Degree,1995
Guerrilla Girls by Glenna Park, 1988-1994 and undated
Box
4 Slides, 1977-1982
Hand painted work, 1981
Hand painted tiles, 1986
Clippings,1986
Love and Independance Days,2003-2010
History plates,2013-2014
Box
OM16 Paper fans, undated
Box
4 Art auction list, undated
Box
1 Exhibits
SAMOMA: Site Specific San Antonio,1982
The Big Tomato/Site Specific,1982
Time capsule SAMA 2181,1984-2013
Artist as Administrator, 1987
Box
4 Fall Faculty, 1987
Box
1 St. Anthony de Padua Festival, 1988
Power to the Pulp,October 31, 1989
Loaded, 1989
Art to Heart, 1989
Table of Content,1994
Invitations and article, 1983-2004 and undated
Gene Elder price list, undated
SAMOCA
Charred Realities, 1992
Obscenity: Gloria Brockman, Victoria Van Koeppen, 1992
Tinkering,1993
Assorted,1993-1995
Tete a Tete, 1995
Box
4 Articles, 1988-1995
Southwest Craft Center schedules, 1988-1990
Box
2 Written Work
Catch-up magazine,1978
Box
4 Catch-up filesArtists Alliance Revue, ,1982-1983
Box
2 Catch-up files,1990
Articles and assorted print materials,1991-2013
"The Art is Listening,"2001
Chartreuse Couch interviews,2006-2015 and undated
Box
4 "Murder by Collage" in Voices of Art,2001-2003



Personal

Box
3 Billie Elder materials,1943-2009
Box
4 School records,1951-1969
Certificates,1962-1969 and undated
Box
3 Navy discharge papers (copies), 1971
Diploma and transcripts,1975-1987
James M. Elder, Inc., 1949, 1985, 2011-2015 and undated
Will, 1994, 2012 and undated
Car registration,2008-2010
Financial records,2012-2014
Box
4 Astrological Aspects, undated
Box
3 Correspondence
32 Duff Street,1983-1990
Amistad Research Center, 1990
Box
4 With clippings and employment documents, 1977-2012
Box
3 Photographs
Elder baby pictures,1949
Gene Elder, 1950-1957 and undated
Photo album,1953-2009 and undated
Assorted, 1962-2007
Box
4 Gene Elder, 1976
Box
3 Gene Elder photograph taken by Hap Veltman, 1987
Gene Elder's 40th birthday party,1989
Contact sheets from photographer, Reuben Njaa,1989
142 Armour garden,1991-2004 and undated
Gene Elder taken by Susan Riley,1992 and undated
Jane Guyer and Adam Jujita wedding, June 2011
Artist Holly Moe cuts Gene Elder's hair, photos by Judy Bankhead, undated
Box
OM16 Elder and Berkeley Smith at Borghum Studio,1978



Activism

Box
2 Articles,1973-2013
Box
4 San Antonio Country1973-1994
San Antonio Country off-limits,1973-2014
Box
2 Anita Bryant prayer/ Grant Spradling letters, 1978, 2005
Party Party mayoral race television ads tapes, 1979
Party Party mayoral race articles, advertisements, 1979
Box
4 FBI documents, 1991-1996
Box
2 Correspondence
Consumer Art, 1987-1991
Letters to the editor, 1980-2004
Box
4 Letters to the editor of the Trinitonian, 1990
Box
2 Express News list, 2014 and undated
Box
4 Letters to the editor, 2015
DVDs
Blue Birds of Happiness interviews
Calvin Cannon, Bill Gage, James Green,August 23, 1990
Martha Prentiss, Rhonda Chase,September 6, 1990
Karlos Anzoatequi at Casa Blanco,September 23, 1990
Michael Huerta, Gerald Aves,January 18, 1991
Mark Ackerman, Michael Kjar,February 15, 1991
Elder's apartment, Karlos, Blue Star studio tour, first Happy Foundation office,February 1991
SALGA Conference various workshops, Dave Pallone-baseball, Military meeting with Nancy Russell, Bruce Jastafar, lunch with others,1993
Bonham time capsule, Hertzberg demonstration, SALGA meeting at Calico Cat,1993
Corynation, Brunch Davidians, tour of Happy Archives, 1994-2002
Happy Archives Marriage Rights at Bonham Exchange,1996
GBR's New Year with Cindy Woods, Unity Foundation Conference at SAPL,January 1996
Unity Foundation Pride Picnic meeting at the 8th Street Bar and Grill,May 1997



Professional

Box
4 Blue Star
Worksheets, messages to Hap, list of 1st tenants,1986
Articles, correspondence, photographs, exhibit flyers, 1988-2006 and undated
Archivist pay records,2003



Assorted

Box
4 Unpublished manuscript by Berkeley Smith, undated
Box
OM16 Clippings, 1989
Tomato declaration, undated