From the Editor

by Claire Ruud

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      Daniel Joseph Martinez
      Beauty… it rubs against one’s tongue it hangs there hurting one insisting on its own existence finally it gets so one cannot stand the pain then one must have beauty extracted
      2006 (Installed May 2008)
      East Façade of Building
      Courtesy the Linda Pace Foundation
      Photo: Justin Parr

      The current exhibition at the Austin Museum of Art and a recent conversation with Linda Pace Foundation Director, Rick Moore, got me thinking: perhaps art professionals and serious collectors should hold a larger proportion of the influential positions on the boards of some Austin and San Antonio art institutions. We cover both AMOA and the Pace Foundation in this issue in the form of a review of Where Are We Going? at AMOA and an interview with Pace Foundation Director Rick Moore.

      The Austin Museum of Art’s Where Are We Going? is one half—the contemporary half—of a two-part exhibition, Modern Art. Modern Lives: Then + Now. Curated by Director and Chief Curator Dana Friis-Hansen, the exhibition draws from the museum’s own holdings and Austin-based private collections to cluster work around four thematic headings: Who are we? Where are we going? Paradise: Lost and Found and Before and After Battle. (Props to Friis-Hansen for attempting to address the environment and the war—the most au courant issues we haven’t seen enough of in Texas.) Obviously very broad, these categories don’t always do justice to individual pieces, but they have also allowed the curator freedom to select for quality and significance rather than topical exactitude.

      Since the works were drawn solely from Austin collections, a point the exhibition brochure highlights, I’m particularly interested in the art-world politics of the show. Over twenty collectors lent work to the contemporary half of the exhibition, but only one work—a Luis González Palma photograph from the collection of Board President Bettye Nowlin—was lent by a trustee of the museum. Of the 63 advisory board members, I found the names of only 5 listed as lenders. Unless the museum is trying to avoid conflict of interest (a difficult feat in our often incestuous art scene), these facts suggest that serious collectors of contemporary art are under-represented on AMOA’s boards.

      Alternatively, it’s possible to see this exhibition as a strategic move toward building a community of collectors with ties to AMOA. Could this be a first step towards inviting Austin collectors into a dialogue with one another? If so, such a dialogue might allow collectors to share knowledge and interests, building the strength and savvy of their collecting activities and, thus, of Austin's art scene. But lending artwork to an exhibition is hardly a guarantee of deeper participation. To foster such a community, AMOA would have to increase its own commitment to these types so notably absent from its Board of Trustees.

      As for the Linda Pace Foundation in San Antonio, I’m beginning to worry about a lack of contemporary art expertise there, too. Little more than a year after Linda Pace’s passing, Foundation Director Rick Moore is understandably, and importantly, preoccupied with the business operations and building plans of the Foundation. He suggests that it will be years before the Foundation’s building has been completed and until building plans are well underway, it sounds as if the Foundation’s acquisitions, curatorial work and granting functions are on hold. Given the current economic climate, I wouldn’t be surprised if the timeline for all this were further delayed out of financial necessity.

      Perhaps I’m still simply mourning the incredible loss that Pace’s death has been to San Antonio, Texas and the art world at large. But I am disappointed that Moore could offer no strategic plan about the future of Pace’s collection or the role that the Foundation will play in supporting contemporary art. Smart collecting and generous giving were at the core of Pace’s work and I hope to see the Foundation prioritize these same aspects of their mission.

      In our next issue, we’ll return to David Adjaye with a review of his current exhibition at Artpace. Also in San Antonio, we’ll be covering Chocolate, an exhibition of conceptual art at SAMA. From the west coast, the issue will include a review of a more expansive exhibition of conceptual art, Conceptualism in California at MoCA. From a fellow mid-sized, mid-country art scene, we’ll enjoy a review of Omer Fast’s De grote Boodschap (The Big Message) at MCA Denver and from the east coast, an artist’s space with New York-based artist Robert Amesbury.

      Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


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