Artist and architect collaboration creates “red” home for contemporary art

Ruby City, designed by architect Sir David Adjaye Obe

I like to collaborate with artists that see space and structure as integral to their work. It involves a merging of skills and aesthetics to create something that has more potential than either discipline can achieve on its own.

Architect David Adjaye

That desire must have made Linda Pace (1945-2007) an ideal client for the architect of international renown, for the passionate collector of art was an artist herself. Writing for The Guardian just prior to the October 2019 opening of the Linda Pace Foundation’s Ruby City in San Antonio, Adjaye noted that Ruby City is an:

…example of how place and history are always important. Linda… had cancer and it had just become aggressive. She knew she was starting to go down. She became fascinated with dreams and their interpretation…. Then she drew this place she called Ruby City. Her drawing looks like a shining city on a hill or a Russian Orthodox church. For her it was a vessel, a hope…. a hope that her disappearance would have an impact.

I became fascinated by it. Red had become so important to her that I wanted to use that as a start point. From discussions we had, I looked at San Antonio and the missionaries who came to the region and the structures they built, the incredible monasteries. I also looked at pre-colonization America and Mesoamerican culture and their relationship to making architecture out of mud and raising these incredible citadels all over that part of Texas and New Mexico. The commonality for me between the monasteries and citadels is that they’re both about religion but also about death and communing with the afterlife – and they’re habitation spaces. Those ideas, mixed with her idea of the form, became an idea about architecture articulating light as a revealer of different facets of her art collection….

So the Ruby City building is about Linda, Texas and the collection.

Linda Pace left behind a collection of more 900 works of art in the hands of the foundation that bears her name. The immense collection will be displayed in rotating exhibitions in the new Ruby City and her former studio and Chris Park across the street. Entrance to the campus and galleries is admission-free.

For now, Ruby City addresses the back service vehicle parking lot of an inartistic branch of the United States Post Office, but that dismal view will be dramatically changed as part of Phase Two, now in the planning stages, of the San Pedro Creek Project.

Postcards from Naples, Italy: Palazzo adapted to showcase contemporary art

Mimmo Paladino, 2006 rooftop installation at MADRE

The 19th-century Palazzo Donnaregina, referred to as “an example of historical stratification,” was purchased in 2005 by the Campania Regional Government for rehabilitation as a contemporary art museum. Much of the work was completed under the guidance of Alvaro Siza Veira, a Portuguese architect. By 2006, two floors of MADRE – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – opened to the public. Daniel Buren’s brightly colored and illuminated installation in the entryway of MADRE sets the tone for the contemporary contents.

When we were there this past fall, there was an impressive exhibition of work, “Whisper Only To You,” by a South Korean artist, Yeesookyung. During her residency in Naples, she incorporated pieces of Capodimonte porcelain into the design of her large shapely vessels.

The master potter was trying to create the perfect piece each time, and he would discard even the ones with the slightest flaw. So I chose to create new forms from them, because perhaps, I don’t believe completely in that kind of perfection. To me, a piece of broken ceramic finds another piece, and they come to rely on one another. The cracks between them symbolise the wound.

Yeesookyung, interviewed in The Business Times, 2013

Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Centro de Arte Contemporaneo

Yet one more contribution to the explosion of art museums in Malaga, the Contemporary Art Museum opened in a spacious former wholesale market house in 2003.

Some of the works pictured are from the permanent collection; others are from a temporary exhibition open while we were there, “Make Something Different.” The show spotlights the resurfacing of Pop Art reinterpreted through the eyes of a new generation merging influences of “cartoons, animation, games, music, underground culture and advertising design.”

I had not realized the museum’s proximity to two enormous building-size murals pictured in the prior blog post on street art in Malaga was no mere coincidence. The poster above indicates that works by artists D’Face and Shepard Fairey – “managing quality dissent since 1989” – were featured in a two-person show in 2015. On his website, D’Face describes the luxury of large-scale:

Whoever said that size doesn’t matter? As an artist working in a world of image saturation through mass media, it’s always been important for me to make art that stands out from the crowd – nothing does that quite like a mural. From Los Angeles to Tokyo, every wall I’ve ever encountered presented a unique challenge, its own concrete personality. There’s nothing quite like stepping back from a wall you’ve had to do battle with for a week and seeing your vision come to life. They’re big, they’re bold and they’re downright badass….