AMOA-Arthouse is Now The Contemporary Austin, a New
International Art Museum Reflecting Austin’s Cutting-Edge Culture
With Two Venues, The Contemporary Austin Launches Ambitious Program to Commission and Exhibit Works From Today’s Leading Artists
AUSTIN, TX—July 18, 2013—Louis Grachos, the Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director of Austin’s historic visual arts institution, AMOA-Arthouse, announced today that this century-old museum and art school are being transformed into The Contemporary Austin, a new entity with a distinctive vision and mission.
Beginning today, July 18, the museum will be named The Contemporary Austin, launching not only a new identity, but also establishing a reinvigorated exhibition focus. The new vision for The Contemporary Austin will unite the museum’s two major venues, Laguna Gloria and the Jones Center.
On September 21, 2013, The Contemporary Austin will inaugurate its ambitious new program of commissioning and exhibiting the works of today’s leading contemporary artists, installing them in its 9,000-square-foot museum building in the heart of downtown Austin, the Jones Center, and at its twelve-acre lakeside estate, Laguna Gloria.
“It is time for Austin, as one of America’s most creative and progressive cities, to have a contemporary art museum to match our robust activity in music, film, and new-media entrepreneurship,” Darrell Windham, president of the board of trustees of The Contemporary Austin, stated. “The Contemporary Austin will support and encourage the city’s own artistic community, while putting artists and visitors from around the world in touch with Austin’s renowned energy and eclectic spirit.”
“There are a number of cultural aspects that define destination cities such as Austin, and a thriving art community is a key ingredient for that,” City of Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. “I have no doubt that The Contemporary Austin, with its new vision and mission, will be a focal point for local art aficionados and our many out-of-town guests, while continuing to be a destination for art education at The Art School.”
Grachos—the former director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and before that, the director of SITE Santa Fe—came to AMOA-Arthouse as its executive director in January 2013, following an international search conducted by the board of trustees. He has realized his mandate from the board—to re-envision AMOA-Arthouse—by developing the identity and program of The Contemporary Austin.
Grachos stated, “I am grateful to the board of The Contemporary Austin for seizing this extraordinary opportunity. With our two complementary venues, our indoor and outdoor spaces, and its location in one of America’s most exciting cultural scenes, the former AMOA-Arthouse will now rise to national and international stature as The Contemporary Austin.”
First Exhibitions Reveal The Contemporary Austin’s Vision
The Contemporary’s program of commissions and exhibitions begins with presentations of new work by two topical and challenging artists, Liam Gillick and Marianne Vitale, who will have exhibitions on view September 21, 2013 through January 5, 2014. The commissions and exhibitions, to be shown at both the downtown Jones Center and on the grounds of Laguna Gloria, will be Austin’s first opportunity to encounter the work of these artists.
“Having Liam Gillick and Marianne Vitale as the two artists for our inaugural exhibitions is a perfect way to illustrate our vision of bringing nationally and internationally recognized art and artists to Austin to create new work,” Grachos commented. “Marianne will be creating an exciting, large outdoor project at Laguna Gloria, to contrast with her scalable pieces for the gallery space at the Jones Center. Liam, whose process is both intellectual and participatory, engaging the commissioning institution and the public alike, will use the Jones Center to exhibit his new film, researched and shot in Austin, while his large, site-specific sculpture at Laguna Gloria will not only be a work of art but will serve as a focal point for visitors and a potential setting for programs for our members and the public at large. We expect that our program of site-responsive commissions will prompt important new contributions from all of the artists we bring to Austin and at the same time will engage our community, making The Contemporary a hub of creativity and inspiration.”
Artists who will be commissioned by The Contemporary in 2014–15 include Charles Atlas, Tom Friedman, Orly Genger, Charles Long, Tom Sachs, and Do Ho Suh.
Longer-range plans include exploring the creation of a new international contemporary art festival in Austin, inspired by the success of the city’s existing festivals (such as SXSW and the Austin Food & Wine Festival) and modeled on other city-wide exhibitions such as Documenta in Kassel and the Münster Sculpture Project. By collaborating with other sites and organizations, The Contemporary also intends to commission works for multiple venues across the city, enabling the institution to function as a museum without walls.
About Liam Gillick and Marianne Vitale
Liam Gillick, who was born in Aylesbury, U.K., in 1964 and lives and works in New York City, is known for rigorously thoughtful and multifaceted activities in sculpture, design, film, architectural interventions, writing, and music, which not only question what a work of art can be but also how, where, and why it is produced and received. He is perhaps best known for a traveling retrospective titled Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario, shown at the Kunsthalle in Zurich, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2008-09, and for his installation in Germany’s official Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. His books include Meaning Liam Gillick (MIT Press, 2009). His collection of bags, accessories, and knitwear was launched at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2011.
Marianne Vitale, who was born in East Rockaway, N.Y., in 1973, and lives and works in New York City, is a sculptor whose imposing pieces, sometimes created on an architectural scale, are often built out of found or reclaimed materials from the American landscape, such as sections of railroad tracks or salvaged pieces of timber. These evoke in the sculpture an almost narrative sense of long use, which Vitale sometimes complicates, or obscures, by then setting the work on fire or riddling it with bullets. Her work has been seen in group exhibitions including the 2010 Whitney Biennial and in solo exhibitions including the Sculpture Center in New York (2009), Ibid Projects in London (2009, 2011), Colton & Farb Gallery in Houston (2010), Unge Kunstneres Samfund in Oslo (2012), and Zach Feuer Gallery in New York (2012).
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