a brief look back
In January 1995, Artpace San Antonio opened its doors and offered a new model for understanding the art of our time by focusing on the artistic process.
Juan Miguel Ramos
Courtesy of the Linda Pace Foundation
Artpace was founded by artist, collector, and businesswoman Linda Pace (1945-2007) to serve as a laboratory of dreams, providing artists from all over the world with an environment that would encourage experimentation and growth.
In the years since, Artpace has garnered recognition for supporting the creative impulse through its residency and exhibition programs, as well as its range of educational programs. Growing from the inspired and generous vision of one woman, Artpace is now an internationally-respected public institution and a cornerstone of contemporary art in San Antonio and the region.
Artpace serves as an advocate for contemporary art and a catalyst for production: it is a residency program as well as a site of exchange. It does this primarily through its International Artist-in-Residence program which annually invites nine artists to live and work in San Antonio for two months to conceive and create pivotal art projects. For each residency a guest curator invites three artists-one from Texas, one from elsewhere in the United States, and one from abroad-to live and work in the Artpace studios. The residency results in an eight-week exhibition, accompanied by a full-color brochure, which are shared with the San Antonio public and the broader art world. In addition to these nine annual residency exhibitions, Artpace presents four exhibitions each year in its Hudson (Show)Room. These exhibitions form the foundation for ArtElements, Artpace's innovative, TEKS-aligned (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) art curriculum. Each year, these education initiatives reach thousands of visitors, including more than 20,000 children and families.
Artpace is housed in an 18,000 square foot facility renovated by the eminent San Antonio firm Lake/Flato Architects, winner of the American Institute of Architects' coveted Architecture Firm Award. The 1920's building, once a Hudson automobile dealership, is located in the vibrant downtown cultural district, one block from San Antonio's famous River Walk. Artpace contributes to the city's vital cultural life by providing a facility with easy access, challenging exhibitions, and a diverse array of programs for artists, students, and adults.
Artpace's inaugural exhibitions featured artists chosen by Rob Storr, the then-Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York. As Artpace's guest curator, he chose three artists: Jesse Amado (San Antonio, Texas), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (New York, New York) and Annette Messager (Paris, France). Today artists have come from as far away as Estonia and Australia, New York and California, and throughout the state of Texas. Initially the Texas artists only came from San Antonio, but in 1998, the regional pool expanded to other cities in Texas and now reflects the entire state. Artpace's resident artists have been selected in two manners: by a panel of arts professionals and by individual curators. In our early years (1994, 1996, 1998), arts professionals-curators, directors, other artists, and arts writers-nominated artists for the residency slots. Nominated artists would then be invited to apply for the residency. The applications were presented to a panel who would then select artists for almost two years of programming. A separate guest curator would also choose three individual artists for a single term. In 2001, Artpace switched entirely to the guest-curator format, allowing the residencies to be more timely for the artists, the curators, and our public. Past guest curators include Okwui Enwezor, Susanne Ghez, Sun Jung Kim, Cuauhtémoc Medina, and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, among others.
Conceived as a creative laboratory, Artpace is artist-centric. Each residency cycle is four months long, with equal parts for the residency and the exhibition. Effectively fifty percent of Artpace's yearly calendar is devoted to art production. Yet Artpace is not a collecting institution. At the end of each show, the work returns home with the artist. It can leave Artpace and appear in another exhibition at a museum, gallery, or in a collector's home. As such, the legacy of Artpace-its objects, people, and effect-is globally diffused.
(Citron, Cerulean, Violet, Blue), 1998