PaperCity Magazine

May 2014 - Houston

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A study in white: Inside Linda Pace's Camp Street compound I f I had to select the best place to discover an emerging artist, would it be Houston? Consider again. Dallas then? Nada. San Antonio is Texas' talent incubator, a veritable unmined setting to sleuth off-the- beaten-path creatives on their way to the next big thing. Why San Antonio? The answer lies in one woman's vision. Linda Pace was pretty much the alpha and omega of an art-making nexus that is perfect in every way for providing what Houston once had: cheap live/ work spaces, interwoven community and, thanks to this patroness who was also an artist, a world-class exhibition venue where the best and brightest mix it up with notables from out of town and across the pond. That destination bears the simplest moniker, one that references its founder and also leans to the metaphoric: Artpace. And it's a legacy that endures well beyond its namesake's premature passing in 2007. Therefore, it seems fitting to begin our rapid-fire immersion into San Antonio's visual culture at the institution that forged the contemporary art scene as we know it. The institution has also beckoned image-makers to town, from the late elegiac Felix Gonzalez-Torres to four Turner Prize finalists, including British sculptor Cornelia Parker (who married one of the locals, artist Jeff McMillan) and MoMA-exhibited British filmmaker Isaac Julien. Here they mixed, mingled and cross-pollinated with national and especially Texas talent. In 1995, Artpace opened its doors near downtown in a former Hudson Auto dealership that put the clean-lined aesthetic of Lake Flato on the map. More than the building, it was the inhabitants who soon turned San Antonio into a Mecca, generating a flourishing scene in the late 1990s that one catalyst compared to 1920s Paris. A flavorful posole of international art stars, including five future MacArthur Fellows, hobnobbed alongside hometown heroes of often Mexican- American ancestry, made art and imbibed tequila at the rickety Liberty Bar, spiced by visiting curators and cognoscenti of renown, beginning with Artpace's first exhibition organizer, MoMA's Robert Storr, who would go on to curate the Venice Biennale in 2007. The formula was simple: three rounds per year of IAIR (International Artist-in- Residence), selected by an esteemed curator — one international, one national and one Texan artist each round; two- month residencies, followed by two- month long exhibitions. The poster child for Artpace will always be Franco Mondini-Ruiz, an attorney who, thanks to Pace's encouragement and his 1996 Artpace residency, forsook the courtroom for a career that commented on high-low culture, especially globalism and identity before the words were in the lexicon. When the great Mondini-Ruiz recreated his Infinito Botanica shop within Artpace, that endeavor led to the 2000 Whitney Biennial and, subsequently, a Rome Prize Fellowship. Alejandro Diaz, who went on to study at the Bard Center, NYC, is another example of a classic Artpace resident promulgating diversity; Diaz's droll Mexi-cans were favorites of the founder and represented in the collection of the Linda Pace Foundation (more on that in a moment). But Pace, the heir to the Pace Picante fortune — she and former husband Kit Goldsbury took the San Antonio condiment brand to the next level, inspiring a salsa revolution — was more than a collector. A sensitive artist whose preferred media was sculpture, she understood the plight of working off the power grid of Manhattan. Consequently, she ended up bringing the art world to her hometown. Flash forward. Approaching its 20th anniversary, Artpace is closing in on 200 artists in residence, of which an ever-expanding crop has gone on to the Whitney Biennial, while others have been short-listed for Great Britain's definitive Turner Prize. If Pace's contribution could be likened to someone else's in the Texas art world, it would be The Menil Collection's benefactress supreme, Dominique de Menil. Artpace is also comparable to the Menil in its ability to carry on despite the loss of its founder. Director Amanda Cruz, at the helm since 2012, brings diversity, curatorial chops and coast-to-coast connections. During our visit, we dialogued with two artists in residence. Los Angeles ceramicist Liz Glynn was enthrallingly crafting a black-glazed conceptual work that references the decorative arts of grand ducal Renaissance Florence. And lenswoman Jessica Mallios was busy installing her minimal photo sampling enigmatically based on the utopian concept of the 1968 World's Fair that was a shining moment for San Antonio. These two, along with cinematically inspired Berlin artist Rosa Barba, were selected by Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Rita Gonzalez for the current Artpace round (through May 18). While the trio might not measure up to the mouse house of Maurizio Cattelan (a personal favorite) and his very smart residency from 2000 — Cattelan came to Artpace a decade before his tour de force Menil and Guggenheim shows — I was really moved by the photographs of Mallios and pleased to note she is Texas based. The latest scuttlebutt happened right after our departure. The Linda Pace Foundation — which is the collecting bookend of the work done at Artpace, but with a separate board — was percolating along with respected scholar/feminist art historian Maura Reilly installed as its dynamic new director. (Reilly arrived last summer from Australia; her partner, international art star Tracey Moffatt, was one of the original IAIR during Artpace's most halcyon days.) Weeks away from opening the foundation's inaugural show of "Pace Gems" (through September 13), Reilly was abruptly gone. In our book, she gets kudos for transforming a former foundation office into Space, a gallery open to the public to showcase the rarely seen treasures and artists Pace most loved and assiduously collected. We met the about-to-depart director in the private two-story Camp Street sanctuary of Artpace's founder. The converted 1920s candy factory — later the world HQ for patron Robert Tobin's aerial survey company Camp faces CHRISpark — features a green space dedicated to Pace's son who died of a drug overdose shortly after she launched Artpace. Upstairs, the vibe in Pace's own residence is like being inside a cloud. There is white, white everywhere, as walls, floors and ceiling are polished to perfection with layer upon later of high-gloss epoxy paint. Like a cubistic igloo, the double- decker loft aerie is reminiscent of Pace's own sculptures — but this one, you can inhabit. Reilly told us about the eight-figure museum that is set to be in motion for Pace's permanent collection, including many of the artists that the Artpace Foundation early on welcomed. Rumors for years have swirled around celebrated British architect David Adjaye, as well as the hue of the new museum — reportedly Pace's favored red. Now the world awaits Reilly's successor and the next step. LOVE AT THE McNAY Our whirlwind day wrapped with an insider tour of the blockbuster "Robert Indiana: Beyond Love" at the McNay Art Museum, one of two collecting institutions that shape the town's zeitgeist. (While the San Antonio Museum of Art was not on our itinerary, it is recommended for architecture — an intriguing reuse of the former Lone Star Brewery — as well as top collections of Colonial Latin American including folk art and the Southwest's most astounding trove of Egyptian and Greco-Roman.) Our McNay adventure was facilitated by chief curator Rene Barilleaux, whose McNay Contemporary group wields real collecting acumen and support for the museum. The brilliant yet approachable Barilleaux green-lighted our photo shoot amidst the Indiana signage, including a heroic blinking The Electric LOVE, 1966/2000. Incredibly, the Indiana retrospective came to San Antonio as the only venue outside of New York for the Whitney-organized survey. Catch the seminal Indiana through May 25, and also pick up a copy of the catalog; Barilleaux contributes a spot-on essay analyzing Indiana's influence on contemporary text artists, from Christopher Wool and Jack Pierson to Jenny Holzer and Glenn Ligon. REBECCA GUTIERREZ CATHERINE ANSPON PACE IN SAN ANTONIO PICKING UP THE A PEEK INTO ONE OF THE RICHEST ART SCENES IN AMERICA — AND IT'S JUST DOWN THE ROAD. CATHERINE D. ANSPON HEADS WEST. PHOTOGRAPHY JACK THOMPSON. Rene Barilleaux amidst Robert Indiana's greatest hits in "Beyond Love," McNay Art Museum Former Blue Star director Bill FitzGibbons' Right Side/Wrong Side, 2014 Newly minted Cinnabar gallery's Susan Heard Joan Mitchell's Flying Dutchman, 1961-1962, anchors the entrance in the top story of the Linda Pace Foundation, formerly the late patroness' living quarters. Austin photographer Jessica Mallios at Artpace The original Pig Stand is even older than the McNay Art Museum. Beautiful relic: Hot Wells, circa 1890s, was once a posh watering hole complete with Victorian-era hotel. Glass and video artist Justin Parr serves as Hot Wells' caretaker. Los Angeles- based Artpace artist in residence Liz Glynn CATHERINE ANSPON CATHERINE ANSPON

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