SouthStar Communities Announces Inaugural VIDA Arts Council 

As a part of the vision for the new VIDA planned community, SouthStar Communities has assembled its first-ever VIDA Arts Council. The VIDA Arts Council will guide the addition of public art throughout the 600-acre community adjacent to Texas A&M-San Antonio. Comprised of local community members, the Council has begun planning for the initial art installations in VIDA.

Founding members Gretchen Howell, Allison Hays Lane, Karissa Mitchem, and April Mae Monterrosa will help identify ideal initial locations in VIDA that are best suited for outdoor artworks of various scales. In addition to VIDA Arts Council guidance, developer SouthStar Communities will engage the surrounding community to consider themes for art installations. The Council will then initiate open calls and artist selections.

Council members will also participate in the creation of an arts masterplan for the VIDA site, which will include art installations and design features. 

Inaugural VIDA Arts Council Members: 

Gretchen Howell

Gretchen Howell, SouthStar Communities

Gretchen Howell is the Senior Vice President, Community Development at SouthStar Communities. Gretchen brings over 25 years of real estate and technology leadership experience to the communities she serves through projects around the country. Gretchen’s background spans marketing and operations for four-star resort developers, primary home and mixed-use development, high-end hospitality, financial services and e-commerce. Gretchen serves on the board for a number of area nonprofits as well as on numerous advisory boards for technology start-ups.

Allison Hays Lane

Allison Hays Lane, © Copyright 2022 Mark C. Greenberg for University Health System

Allison Hays Lane is the Curator & Archivist of University Health. She has lived in San Antonio for over 30 years, working in the arts community and raising her three children. Working in the arts and arts administration since 1984, she has had the opportunity to work in nonprofits and underserved populations supporting community art outreach, working for the San Antonio Museum of Art as Director of Development, and serving on boards such as the Good Samaritan Center, UTSA COLFA Board, Founding Member of the Attic Repertory Theatre and the Contemporary Collectors group at the McNay Art Museum. Currently Hays Lane is finalizing the completion of art programing for the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital at University, opening 2023.

Karissa Mitchem

Karissa Mitchem, Salinas Photography

Karissa Mitchem is the Administrative Coordinator and Student Advocate for the Dean of Students Office at Texas A&M University–San Antonio. Karissa is also an alumni of the University, graduating with an Accounting BBA in 2021. During her time as a student, Karissa was involved with the University as a student leader in multiple organizations and also founded a new organization specifically for accounting students. Her efforts as a student organization leader were recognized by numerous awards, but most notably as a Senior of Distinction for the 2020-2021 class. As a student, Karissa discovered a passion for helping students, and now carries it as a mission through her current position as a Student Advocate. In her free time, Karissa likes to read DC graphic novels, visit art museums, and spend quality time with family and friends.

April Mae Monterrosa

April Mae Monterrosa, Live from the Southside

April Mae Monterrosa is a published author and the CEO of Live From The Southside, the first Latina-owned publication in Southside San Antonio. She is also the owner of April Mae Media, and has a passion for giving back to her community as a board member on the San Antonio Water System’s Community Experience Committee, the Palo Alto College Cosmetology Committee, the San Antonio District 4 Small Business Committee, Brooks Give Back, the San Antonio Women’s Business Center, The Pink Berets, and the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. Because she loves her city, she became a Certified Tourism Ambassador for the City of San Antonio. She’s a member of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association, founder of the Southside Book Fair, Wonderfully Wise Women, and Southside Market Days.

Additions to the VIDA Arts Council are always welcome. If you are passionate about local art and have some familiarity with the public art process, please send an email outlining your interest and qualifications to

800 533 VIDA
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