While he was working at a San Antonio movie theater as a youth, Vincent Valdez stepped outside into the abrupt chaos of protesters and counterprotesters in Alamo Plaza. That was when he came face to face with a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, hooded but unmasked.

"We stared at each other for what seemed like minutes," artist Valdez told Maria Hinojosa, host of National Public Radio’s "Latino USA," along with a full auditorium of rapt listeners, at the University of Texas on July 17. "It was probably only a few seconds."

UT’s Blanton Museum of Art knew it had a potential artistic bombshell in hand long before Tuesday, when it unveiled Valdez’s 30-foot, four-panel painting "The City I," a monochromatic treatment of modern-day Klan members pictured on the ragged edge of a city. So museum leaders say they spent the better part of the past year generating a quiet dialogue on depictions and interpretations of race and racism.

Read more from Valdez and how Blanton staff prepared for this exhibit in a story on our premium website.