TANGIBLE/NOTHING

Katie Pell, Bitchen Stove, 2006, 45 x 30 x 27 in., © Katie Pell, Linda Pace Foundation Collection, Ruby City, San Antonio, Texas.

Rick Lowe, Untitled, 2021, © Rick Lowe, courtesy the artist, Linda Pace Foundation Collection, Ruby City, San Antonio, Texas.

Adam Schreiber, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled (Young man, if my wife makes it), 1999, 2012 © Adam Schreiber, Linda Pace Foundation Collection, Ruby City San Antonio, Texas.

Ruby City will present the exhibition Tangible/Nothing beginning September 8, 2022. The exhibition, the first reinstallation of the permanent collection galleries since the contemporary art center opened in 2019, will feature approximately 40 works, including works by David Avalos, Dorothy Cross, Milagros de la Torre, Thomas Demand, Alejandro Diaz, Sam Durant, Kate Ericson & Mel Ziegler, Teresita Fernández, Mona Hatoum, Nina Katchadourian, Rick Lowe, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Gabriel Orozco, Rubén Ortiz-Torres & Jim Mendiola, Katie Pell, Paul Pfieffer, Chuck Ramirez, Dario Robleto, Doris Salcedo, Adam Schreiber and others. Tangible/Nothing highlights two groups of works from the collection that conversely represent seeming nothingness or ubiquity.

Many works represent apparent voids, vestiges of what’s missing or subjects not pictured – a pair of arms bereft of a body, a woman represented only by her purse or Miss America seen only as a bobbing crown. Other works represent or incorporate mundane, everyday objects that stand in for big ideas, such as empty paint cans representing a white, heroic vision of American patriotic ideals.

Curated by Elyse Gonzales, director of Ruby City, the exhibition was inspired in part by Linda Pace, the founder of the Linda Pace Foundation and a lifelong supporter of artists. Though deceased in 2007, Pace and her imprimatur still deeply resonate throughout the Ruby City campus, its mission and the city’s art community as a whole. The exhibition’s themes also reflect the social isolation caused by caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This notion of absence and presence was similarly experienced by everyone over the past two years, when many people were physically separated from friends and family, needing to find ways to connect with them in absentia—with many experiencing permanent loss,” said Gonzales.

Serving as the backbone of the exhibition are a series of works by artists, many of whom were friends, that intimately portray or memorialize Pace, even if she is not pictured. For example, Chuck Ramirez photographed Pace’s purse in Purse Portraits: Louis (Linda)2005. Ramirez’s series of purses, seen from above with the contents exposed, represent the owners, since purses–and the objects carried within–are a most personal possession and constant companion of many women. Another example is BookPace (2002), a series of photographs of the book spines in Pace’s home library by Nina Katchadourian, on loan from the artist. Selected and arranged by the artist, the book titles become spontaneous sentences, poems that all reveal Pace and her passions, known and unknown.

In the suite of prints “I Miss Everyone Who Has Ever Gone Away,” Dario Robleto memorializes music icons such as Maria Callas, Patsy Cline, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Each print represents the cover of a live album with a stylized version of the cover’s colors and shapes–but with the names and photos of the musicians absent.

Paul Pfieffer’s video work Miss America (2003) includes an altered clip from the broadcast of the Miss America pageant. It shows only the bobbing crown moving on the stage, the beauty queen herself absent. Another work by Pfeiffer, Red Background #1 (2002), is a photograph of a red velvet background, typically used in the photography of art and objects, with the objects themselves removed.

Rick Lowe’s Untitled (2021) a recent acquisition on view for the first time, is an abstract pattern based on the game of dominoes. The painting and collage represents the artist’s personal experience with the game as well as the spirt of community that the game engenders and the places it is played. Lowe is currently featured in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Similarly, Bitchen Stove (2006), by popular San Antonio artist Katie Pell (1965–2019), transforms an otherwise commonplace appliance—a gas stove—into a comment on traditional gender roles—the bright pink stove is customized like a lowrider car.

Also on view will be Abstract Painting, White, Number 862 (2005), an all-white canvas by Daniel Joseph Martinez (who is also currently featured in the 2022 Whitney Biennial). Only the accompanying label suggests the subject of the work, the role (or lack of a role ) of the state in higher human culture, typical of the artist’s abstract explorations of individual and collective identity.

Kate Ericson (1955-1995) and Mel Ziegler  are known for their conceptual works commenting on American history and its tropes. Their work High Gloss (1991), recently gifted to Ruby City, is a group of 80 empty paint cans, the dried colors still visible. The paint is from a line of housepaint from one of Benjamin Moore’s historic series. The colors are named for places and figures from the 18th and 19th centuries—stand-ins for broad, romanticized concepts of US history that privileged a white, male, and heroic narrative.