Mary Elizabeth CantuAs a child, Mary Elizabeth Cantu dreamt of being Indiana Jones. Cantu is a native San Antonian and has worked in the fields of arts, education and culture in San Antonio for over 15 years. She earned her BA in Museum Education with a focus on Cultural Anthropology and Elementary Education from Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) then received a MA in Art Education with a focus on Community-Based Art from the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 she became a national Reuse Institute Master Reuser—the first in San Antonio and in 2016 Cantu received St. Mary’s University’s Art of Peace Award.

Community engagement, art, education and green living have always been important to Cantu. All of these values amalgamated when she founded Spare Parts, a project dedicated to: cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; and community, education and creativity, green-style. Its main objective is to connect with various agencies and businesses to provide a steady supply of materials, which would otherwise be thrown away, for the artistic community and educators to increase the creative and cultural energy of San Antonio. Her vision is to transform Spare Parts from a volunteer effort to a full-time organization.

Cantu also co-founded the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM with Gabriela Santiago in 2013 to bring the fine arts museum experience to schools and the community.

Photo credit: Josh Huskin.


Chris CastilloMINI ART MUSEUM Advisory Committee Member 

Chris Castillo helps make art happen. Born in San Antonio, Texas, Castillo studied Journalism and Photography at San Antonio College before completing a BA in Photography and Art History & Criticism at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Castillo is seeking a Master of Library Science degree at Texas Woman’s University. Currently the Residency & Archives Associate at Artpace, his previous work includes Bexar Bibliotech and the San Antonio Public Library. Castillo is a founding member of the artist collective The Lullwood Group, which curated Second Saturday exhibitions monthly 2012 through 2017. Castillo also interned for artist Adriana Lara and Perros Negros in Mexico City. Photo courtesy Josh Huskin. Castillo chairs Friends of Spare Parts’ Mini Art Museum’s Advisory Committee.





MINI ART MUSEUM, Co-founder & Director

In her youth, Gabriela Santiago, organized ticketed events for neighborhood kids by transforming the mundane into coveted experiences. Think member’s only water world employing a mangled sprinkler and plastic playhouse as the central attraction. That young entrepreneur continues to craft creative programming, only now featuring art and education advocacy at center stage. As an artist, Gabriela’s creative practice is disguised as pedagogical programming that aims to initiate proactive and innovative responses to everyday challenges. This approach includes developing inquiry-based classroom and museum curriculum, facilitating teacher workshops, youth programming, and installing interactive public art works. Gabriela weaves together a network of resources to make learning engaging, accessible, and relevant – collaborating with communities and collecting data as evidence that creative experiences have enduring effects. In addition to being a classroom teacher for seven years, Gabriela is co-founder and director of the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM (MAM), a travelling museum that challenges the idea of “museum as destination.” MAM tours contemporary art exhibitions to communities around the world to make the fine arts experience more accessible. Outside of her artist/educator habits, Gabriela is always looking for an excuse to spend time next to a cool Texas river with her pup, Turkey.


MINI ART MUSEUM Advisory Committee
PURPOSE: To advise, oversee direction and assist with the leadership and general promotion of the Spare Parts MINI ART MUSEUM (MAM) so as to support its mission and needs.

Interested candidates should first contact MAM Founders via email ( Answer the following:

  1. How did you first hear about the MAM and what were your initial impressions?
  2. What unique experiences and qualifications do you have to contribute to the success of the MAM? 
  3. What part(s) of the MAM interest you the most and why: fundraising/development, educational outreach, exhibition development, marketing/PR, archives/registrar and/or volunteer/event support?