Texas Art Scene

Contemporary Austin museum lands game-changing grant from Dallas foundation

Austin museum lands game-changing grant from Dallas foundation

Austin Photo Set: News_shelley seale_laguna gloria_march 2012_amoa
Laguna Gloria in Austin was awarded a $9 million grant by the Dallas-based Marcus Foundation to enhance its art collection. Courtesy photo

The Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation has awarded a $9 million grant to Laguna Gloria, the 12-acre estate that serves as the outdoor venue for The Contemporary Austin. The money will help transform Laguna Gloria into an "unparalleled outdoor-indoor art destination."

Approximately $5 million will fund the commissioning and acquisition of sculpture and site-specific permanent installations by leading artists. To honor the foundation's generosity, this Laguna Gloria feature will be named the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park.

The remainder of the grant will be dedicated to an endowment for maintenance and conservation of the works, and it will also fund a series of commissions, exhibitions and public engagements for The Contemporary's program at the new sculpture park.

"Betty and Edward Marcus will always be remembered as the trailblazers for contemporary art in Dallas," said The Contemporary Austin executive director Louis Grachos in a statement. "We are tremendously grateful to the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation for recognizing the extraordinary potential of our new mission at The Contemporary Austin and for moving us ahead by a giant step."

Visitors eager to get a glimpse of Laguna Gloria's future can tour the grounds beginning September 21, when The Contemporary Austin presents new works by Liam Gillick and Marianne Vitale, whose recent exhibit at the Zach Feuer Gallery in New York was heralded by the New York Times "as something approaching a near-perfect 10."

In Austin, Vitale will take over the expansive outdoor spaces of Laguna Gloria with a series of "common crossings" composed of the switches that allow trains to change directions. The exhibit runs through January 5, 2014.

Founded by Betty Marcus, the Marcus Foundation has provided more than 125 grants to support the visual arts throughout Texas. In early 2013, the trustees initiated a selective competition for its $9 million corpus to be granted to "the Texas institution that proposes the most innovative, visionary visual arts initiative for the future."