PaperCity Magazine

April 2017 - Houston

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70 O nce upon a time, Rice University was the most exciting place to be in Houston's visual world, teeming with exhibitions, filmmaking, avant-garde fervor, and a whiff of counterculture. The dialogue swirled around the Menil-founded Institute for the Arts, née 1969, a jaunty galvanized-metal structure designed by Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry and affectionately known as the Art Barn. In its first decade, the museum — the forerunner of The Menil Collection — realized shows ranging from Art Nouveau decorative arts to the Andy Warhol-curated "Raid the Icebox." After the de Menils left Rice in the 1980s to found their own museum, the energy for art dissipated at the university, with the exception of the innovative installations at Rice Gallery a decade later and, more recently, the emergence of a public art program, capped by the 2012 opening of the Turrell Skyspace endowed by Rice alum Suzanne Deal Booth, a protégé of Mrs. de Menil. The Art Barn itself was demolished in 2014, but rising nearby is a new institution (on the former footprint of the university tennis courts) — an apt successor to the de Menils' quest for an international dialogue about art and ideas amidst the hedges and beyond. Unveiled in late February, the Silver-LEED certified Moody Center for the Arts is one of the most exciting additions to Houston's cultural and intellectual landscape within the past decade. In conjunction with the opening of the Menil Drawing Institute this October and the Glassell School of Art's new home in January 2018, this trifecta of buildings — and the activities they generate — will shape our city for a generation to come. The Moody is sited at the southern edge of campus, close to a leafy neighborhood bordering Rice Village (Stockton entrance, off University Boulevard). On the axis to the Medical Center, it neighbors Rice Media Center, and its main facades face the Glasscock School and Shepherd School of Music. The $30 million, 50,000-square-foot structure was designed by Los Angeles- based architect Michael Maltzan. The building appears to levitate; its second-floor brick coursers nod to the architectural past of the university, hovering over the ground level's floor-to-ceiling wall of glass. Two stainless-steel "starburst" columns evoke the abstracted oak trees that are the campus' calling cards, while supporting lanterns that wash the Moody in light. Signaling a new commitment to trans-disciplinary pursuits, the non-collecting arts incubator seeks engagement with other aspects of the university, especially Rice's stellar science departments, with the possibilities of nanotechnology. Classrooms and makers studios (both for students), THE COOL CLEAR FUTURE IS ART + SCIENCE CATHERINE D. ANSPON REPORTS ON A $30 MILLION THINK TANK AND INSTALLATION SPACE AT RICE UNIVERSITY – MOODY CENTER FOR THE ARTS. a 150-seat theater for performances and panels, and a cafe round out the airy interiors. Moody Center director Alison Weaver is a Houston native whose resume includes the directorship of all Guggenheim affiliates outside of New York worldwide, from Bilbao and Berlin to Venice and Las Vegas. She's assembled a dynamic team that mirrors the openness and promise of the new building. John Bradshaw Jr., former deputy director of Asia Society, heads development; Connie McAllister, recruited from Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, leads communications; and Ian Cion, founder of MD Anderson's arts and medicine program, manages exhibitions and programs. And, of course, Rice Gallery's Kim Davenport will have a new home. Considered by many to be the best contemporary curator in Houston, Davenport will continue creating the innovative site-specific exhibits she's organized for the last two decades, which have brought talents from Yayoi Kusama to El Anatsui to town. (Catch Rice Gallery's grand finale before moving to the Moody Center: Sol LeWitt, through May 14.) Rounding out the group is Evan Garza, directing public art; most recently assistant modern and contemporary curator at the Blanton, he assumes the post held by Molly Hipp Hubbard, who put public art on the map at Rice. The inaugural programming signals the spirit of the new Moody. There's a sense of great minds bearing expansive, futuristic ideas, paired with visionary artists — and the public is invited in. As with the Menil, admission to the Moody is always free. A highlight of the opening weekend (continued on page 72) Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre dancers in Logbook, 2016. The Brooklyn-based company was one of the Moody's grand opening headliners, performing at the Turrell Skyspace on campus. Olafur Eliasson's Green light, 2016 IAN DOUGLAS PHOTO MARÍA DEL PILAR GARCÍA AYENSA / STUDIO OLAFUR ELIASSON, 2016

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