Ruby City / Art & Artists / Archive
We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Recollection #1 (2020) by Milagros de la Torre. This unique work is comprised of seven security mirrors etched with constellations signifying important dates to the artist. Prompting viewers to see themselves among the etched patterns, Recollection #1 effectively provokes issues related to identity, power and control.
de la Torre grew up surrounded by the political turmoil of Peru in the 1970s and 80s, which opened her eyes to the violence around her as well as its residual affects. Her work is realized through personal experience as well as extensive research into systems of politics and authority, including practices such as surveillance and racial profiling. In Recollection #1 the artist employs convex surveillance mirrors, normally used to monitor people and property, etched with constellations from key dates relating to her artistic development. One references the birthdate of Linda Pace, the founder and patron of Artpace—where the work was made and exhibited during de la Torre’s Spring 2020 Residency. Installed at varying heights, audience members are nonetheless able to see their own faces represented among the etched constellations.
In bringing these two visual elements together—faces and constellations—de la Torre references past, present, and often racist practices used to define and control segments of the population by “industries, social media and the State as a whole,” as the artists declares. The act of overlaying faces with lines recalls the 19th c. pseudo-science of measuring heads (known as phrenology) and facial features to justify supposed white racial superiority. These same lines, as well as the surveillance mirrors themselves, call to mind present-day facial recognition software and other technological advances that are frequently encoded with the biases of the people who use and program them.
Recollection #1 will join other works in Ruby City’s collection that explore socio-political issues like those by Andrea Bowers, Alejandro Diaz, Glenn Ligon, Thomas Hirshhorn and Isaac Julien as well as symbolism and meaning in nature, such as work by Teresita Fernandez, Jim Hodges, Rivane Neuenschwander and Dario Robleto. The addition of her artwork to the Linda Pace Foundation permanent collection deepens the collection’s BIPOC and Latin American perspective, which was fostered by Pace in her lifetime. By welcoming this work into the collection, the Foundation continues to manifest Pace’s vision to represent the communities it serves with contemporary art that aims to inform and illuminate the world in which we live today.
Tune in to watch a conversation between Isaac Julien, Ruby City Director Elyse A. Gonzales and Cantor Arts Center, Assistant Curator of Photography and New Media Maggie Dethloff. Both institutions have Julien’s related work, “Western Union: Small Boats” currently installed and are eager to share insights from this internationally-acclaimed artist with their audiences.
Ruby City is pleased to announce the acquisition of Austin-based artist Deborah Roberts’ mixed media collage on canvas, “Cock-a-doodle-doo” (2020). From an early age, Roberts, an African-American woman, recognized that there were few depictions of people who looked like her in art history and popular media. As a consequence, her artistic practice is built upon rectifying that situation. Roberts became known for her unique and celebratory depictions of young African-American girls and more recently, Black boys--like “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” Working largely in collage and paint, and at times in video sculpture, she depicts these figures in order to reveal the complex circumstances of Black identity today. ⠀
Although it has a playful title, “Cock-a-doodle-doo” has disturbing undertones. Roberts’ painting depicts a young boy attempting to appear older and physically larger. He stands with clenched fists, defiantly confronting the viewer with his confident--perhaps cocky--posture. With a scowl and cold pout, the boy seems to exude confidence and strength, typically celebrated “masculine” attributes. However, Roberts’ work highlights, as she states, the “double standard” faced by young Black men. Many are expected to grow up sooner than their White counterparts, yet their seeming maturity only feeds racist stereotypes of their perceived dangerous, inherently criminal nature. More specifically, Roberts’ inspiration for this work was the incident of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, an African-American boy who played with a toy gun. He “was shot within eight seconds of police arriving, not realizing he was a little boy because he pumped himself up.” ⠀
This work is currently on view in Roberts’ solo exhibition, “I’m,” at the Contemporary Austin through August 15th. In September, the show will travel to MCA Denver. If you can, check out these exhibitions and make sure to take a picture of yourself with Ruby City’s latest addition to the collection! Tag us @RubyCity so we can repost your picture to our feeds. ⠀
Deborah Roberts, Cock-a-doodle-doo, 2020. Mixed media collage on canvas. © Deborah Roberts.
As part of its one-year anniversary celebration, Ruby City challenges you to participate in a scavenger hunt, exploring San Antonio through the experiences of its visionary founder Linda Pace. On Saturday, October 17 at noon Ruby City will release scavenger hunt photo locations. Always proud of and deeply invested in her hometown, Pace’s direct and familial connections to numerous sites in the city and the history of San Antonio are significant. This program will give participants an opportunity to get out and safely explore the contemporary cultural scene of San Antonio—with the chance to win prizes from small local businesses!
The Carver Community Center and Ruby City will present Taller Talk an ongoing program in conversation with artists in their home or studio. This virtual program was created in an effort to continue connecting with artists in our community and beyond during this time of social distancing. To kick off this new program we will sit down with Carver Community Cultural supervisor, Ernie Ramirez and local visual artist and digital media coordinator for Ruby City, Barbara Miñarro.
Barbara Miñarro was born in Monterrey, Mexico and currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. As an artist influenced and making a life between two cultures, Miñarro’s work explores ideas of the body in migration. Her soft sculptures, installations and paintings utilize the tactile memory of clothing, the earth and the physical body to express the emotional journey of immigration.
Miñarro has exhibited at various galleries including at Sweet Briar College, South Texas College, Blue Star Contemporary and Artpace. She has recently launched Breakfast Friends, a small-batch hand-painted purse business out of her home studio in San Antonio, TX.
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.