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The Contemporary Austin announces future sculpture park at Laguna Gloria with $9 million grant
Landmark gift moves The Contemporary rapidly toward its goal of becoming an unparalleled outdoor-indoor museum for outstanding new works of art. In this image: Laguna Gloria Villa.

AUSTIN, TX.- Louis Grachos, the Ernest and Sarah Butler Executive Director of The Contemporary Austin, today announced that a $9 million grant from the Dallas-based Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation, won on a competitive basis, will help transform the museum into an unparalleled outdoor-indoor institution.

Approximately $5 million of the grant will fund the commissioning and acquisition of sculpture and site-specific permanent installations by some of today's leading artists, to be shown outdoors at the 12-acre lakeside estate of Laguna Gloria, one of The Contemporary's two venues. In recognition of the Foundation's generosity, this major feature of Laguna Gloria will be named the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park. Another $2 million will be dedicated to an endowment for the permanent maintenance and conservation of the works in the Sculpture Park, and $2 million will fund a series of commissions, exhibitions and public engagements for The Contemporary's program at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park.

Melba Whatley, Chair of the Marcus Foundation, stated, "Were they here today, Betty and Edward Marcus would applaud Louis Grachos and his great eye, his assured professional leadership and high standards, the mission of contemporary art, the drive to achieve excellent governance and the emphasis on Austin and the whole world. As trustees of their foundation we can hardly believe that it is still possible to create a permanent sculpture park in Betty and Eddie's honor which will be distinguished by great landscape and filled with the greatest art of our time."

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

Louis Grachos stated, "Betty and Edward Marcus will always be remembered as the trailblazers for contemporary art in Dallas. Even though they went far beyond the visual arts in their philanthropy, they especially embraced the immediate creativity of living artists and the vibrancy that contemporary art can instill in a community. 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."

Beginning the Transformation: Inaugural Commissions and Exhibitions
Formed from the merger of two existing historic arts institutions, The Contemporary Austin announced its new name and mission in July 2013.

In September, The Contemporary will inaugurate its signature program of commissions and exhibitions by today's leading artists by presenting new work by Liam Gillick and Marianne Vitale. Installed in both the downtown Jones Center and the Laguna Gloria grounds, the works will be on view from September 21, 2013 through January 5, 2014, providing Austin with its first opportunity to encounter these artists.

Vitale (born 1973) will site a series of alteredrailroad "common crossings" or "frogs" (the switches that change the direction of trains) in the woods and meadow of Laguna Gloria, installing them upright to evoke the appearance of a clan of totemic beings, and in the Jones Center will present an immersive, large-scale sculptural installation of two intersecting, burned bridges that visitors can walk under, inside and through. Gillick (born 1964) will use the Jones Center to exhibit the second in a series of films the artist has produced dealing with specific architectural sites, recorded on his visits to the grounds of Laguna Gloria, and at Laguna Gloria will install a multicolored, powder-coated steel platform structure at the edge of the waterfront below the villa. Created with the participation of museum staff as well as local architects, engineers and fabricators, the platform will appear to discerning visitors to be a surprising industrial insertion into the landscape, and for casual strollers will be welcome as a simple canopy for shelter. The exhibitions by Gillick and Vitale are organized for The Contemporary by Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator.

Other artists who will be commissioned by The Contemporary in 2014-15 include Charles Long, Orly Genger, Tom Friedman, Tom Sachs, Ayse Erkmen and Jim Hodges.

Remaking the Visitor Experience at Laguna Gloria
The Contemporary Austin will ultimately remake Laguna Gloria into an exceptional art-in-nature setting that is unique in Texas. The terrain surrounding the gracious villa-including woods, meadow and waterfront-will be reconceived as a coherent and welcoming landscape of art, featuring permanent and temporary installations of site-responsive sculpture by some of today's most vital and imaginative artists. Through the use of existing funds, separate from the funding for artworks made available through the grant from the Marcus Foundation, The Contemporary is now moving toward development of a master plan for the entire 12-acre site.

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