Artists have always had a unique lens on the world, coupled with an ability to deftly portray their lived experiences. Guided by our founder’s conviction that contemporary art is essential to a dynamic society, Ruby City is a platform where artists of all ethnicities and races can share those experiences, and where audiences can better understand the realities other communities face. We honor the protestors who are working to resist the unjust realities faced by people of color across the nation. We laud your efforts to make positive change and support your voices demanding equality. Black Lives Matter. Say his name, say her name: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade.
A recent acquisition of the Linda Pace Foundation, Lessons of the Hour by Isaac Julien, places the contemporary Black American struggle against police brutality in historical context of the abolitionist movement. The multi-channel film is built around a series of vignettes related to three of Frederick Douglass’ speeches and interspersed among them are clips from the 2015 Baltimore protests following Freddie Gray’s death. In bringing past and present together Julien’s film serves as a potent reminder of how much the United States is still contending with the legacy of inequality born out of a history of slavery. Douglass, a former slave was one of the most well-known abolitionists of the nineteenth century, and traveled throughout the United States and United Kingdom delivering powerful speeches challenging audiences to question how their values and beliefs contributed to the systemic oppression of Black people. The film also reveals that Douglass was a great admirer of photography. The most photographed man of his day, he understood the medium’s power and saw its potential to depict the human condition of Black people as opposed to derogatory stereotypes. By controlling and disseminating his image widely, Douglass knew he could present a more factual, nuanced account of the Black lived experience.
Douglass’ lesson about images’ power to transform the world continues to resonate today, particularly when we consider how video and digital photography have been skillfully used by those seeking to expose injustice as well as those attempting to perpetuate it. Museums and art centers like Ruby City have important work to do, not only in collecting and showing work by artists of color whose work challenges the norms of systemic racism, but also in helping our audiences to understand and analyze images, their histories and the futures they propose. Ruby City was founded by Linda Pace, a woman who supported, collected, and exhibited the work of many artists of color. We remain committed to giving voice and a platform to communities of color in order to help shape the future. With this work and in this moment, we are determined to continue to support the work of Black artists, ensuring the representation of Black life.
Elyse A. Gonzales, Director
While this year’s Fiesta has been postponed until November, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate at home. Let’s kick things off by unveiling the 2020 Fiesta medal, designed by Yogurt Lump aka Jen Frost Smith!
We want to thank Feliz Modern for making our Fiesta medal available for purchase online. All proceeds from the medal benefit Contemporary Art Month, a local non-profit that supports San Antonio based artists.
About the medal:
Following grad school in Baltimore, artist Jen Frost Smith developed the artistic persona of Yogurt Lump as a way to express what she loved, without focus on conceptuality or critique. Enter Dolly Parton. Parton has always been important in Jen’s life. As a child, she dreamed that Parton was her mother, singing and caring for her. Parton presented a creative and joyful lens through which Smith could re-imagine the world. As an adult, Smith continues to admire all that Parton embodies — humility, feminism, creativity and kindness — and Parton was a natural choice for her Fiesta medal commission. The words “Role Model” inscribed on the portrait remind us that we can find beauty wherever we choose, love our flaws and express our individuality, while not giving a damn what others think.
We have decided to close Ruby City to the public starting Saturday, March 14th until further notice.
“…if you really want to be an artist, keep making work no matter what. The passion for making will often times be the only thing that sustains and fulfills you.”Elyse A. Gonzales, Ruby City Director
“With more than 20 years of experience in the art world, Elyse is a proven leader who will bring a strong vision to this new chapter in Ruby City’s history,”– Kathryn Kanjo, Linda Pace Foundation President
“I looked a lot at car culture and the different sub-genres within that culture. I made things as if I was pretending to be someone who was really into each of those genres, for example Malibu style, glittery lowriders, etc.”–Katie Pell
“I can say without reservation or exaggeration – this is an historic moment for San Antonio.”–Mayor Ron Nirenberg
“His integrity ran deep, as did his affection for the Linda Pace Foundation and the values it represents. His balanced leadership helped guide the Foundation since its inception and his impact will endure.”Kathryn Kanjo, Trustee
“I seem to keep playing the same Mahler songs over and over – for the las four years or so. It’s moody, has a lot of quiet spaces, and is dark and introspective.”Alejandro Diaz for Ruby City
Isaac Julien, "Baltimore (After Buren)," 2003
Isaac Julien, "Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement," 2019
Isaac Julien, "True North," 2004
Isaac Julien, "Dreaming in Red," 2009
Isaac Julien, "Ten Thousand Waves," 2010
Isaac Julien, "Playtime," 2014
Isaac Julien, "Stones Against Diamonds," 2015
Isaac Julien, "Love," 2003
Isaac Julien, "Hate," 2003
“I think my work has a dream like quality to it; a stillness and a sense that something is just about to happen. My dreams are sometimes like that.”Ana Fernandez for Ruby City
“We are thrilled to have this amazing work so purposefully placed by the artist herself in our sculpture garden…There is such a dynamic connection between Rubins’s gestural sculpture and Ruby City’s faceted design.”Kelly O’Connor, Sculpture Magazine