Nestled beside the Colorado River and Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve, just minutes from downtown Austin, you will find the 14-acre site of Laguna Gloria. As part of The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria offers a unique experience, including events, community programs, a sculpture garden featuring internationally acclaimed artists, a 100-year old Italian villa, and an art school with classes for children and adults. The Contemporary Austin ‘aims to integrate art into the rich cultural fabric of the community,’ and is the only museum in Austin solely focused on contemporary artists. Laguna Gloria is a space dedicated to bridging art and nature!
The land now known as Laguna Gloria has a rich history. Previously owned by Stephen F. Austin, it was purchased by Clara Driscoll and her husband Hal Sevier, editor of the Austin American, in 1914. After honeymooning in Italy, Clara had their home built in two years, inspired by the villas of Lake Como. She was an avid gardener, and spent years of her life designing the terraced gardens that remain at Laguna Gloria to this day. At the time, the home was a socialite’s paradise, hosting politicians and dignitaries, as well as lavish parties where guests arrived by boat. In 1943, Clara donated Laguna Gloria to the Texas Fine Arts Association.
Named the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria, this vibrant location currently includes sculptures from world renowned artists. A current list of pieces is available on their website (here), and includes sculptures from Ai Wei Wei, Carol Bove, Ryan Gander, Elmgreen & Dragset, Terry Allen, Tom Friedman, Wangechi Mutu, and many more. With a diverse ecology and rich with natural beauty, this is a striking setting to see these incredible sculptures.
Laguna Gloria officially broke ground in the spring of 2018 on Phase I of the Master Plan Transformation. This includes creating additional community gathering spaces, a café and visitor center, an art and design shop, and additional restroom and locker facilities. These additions will ‘shape Laguna Gloria into an extraordinary space to discover works of art framed by the vibrant natural landscape.’ Additionally, in partnership with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Laguna Gloria is undertaking an Invasive Species Removal Project, which will preserve heritage trees, restore the ecological health of the land, and encourage native plants to thrive.
Laguna Gloria is open to visitors seven days a week, and more information about visiting can be found here.
A look behind the scenes on photo day in the gallery.
Just in time for summer, New York Botanical Garden has opened their newest exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii, which features 17 paintings by O’Keeffe from her visit to Hawaii in 1939. The traditional installation is enriched by the surrounding greenhouses, which have been arranged by landscape architects to include the types of Hawaiian terrain O’Keeffe would have seen on her trip. Vibrant red hibiscuses, lantana flowers, and a variety of palm tree species can be found boasting their colors and beauty throughout the spaces.
Surprisingly, O’Keeffe was not originally excited about her venture to the islands. She was approached by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now “Dole”) for a commission to produce two paintings to use in their print advertisements, hence her ambivalence. In exchange, they offered her the option to determine the subject of these works herself, a degree of artistic freedom that likely encouraged her to accept the invitation, along with the opportunity to explore the islands and paint what she pleased. Unsurprisingly, O’Keeffe fell in love with the diverse nature of the land, especially the flowers and pineapple fields, “all sharp and silvery stretching for miles off to the beautiful irregular mountains.”
O’Keeffe spent just over two months between the various islands, and produced 20 paintings during that time. The lush, bright colors of the flora, and the stark contrasts of black volcanic rock against the blue sea and sky were new to her, especially in comparison to her signature pastel desert landscapes. Even with this diametric divergence from her usual subject, the Hawaiian works still feel very much like O’Keeffe. At her 1940 show of the works, one critic commented that the Hawaiian paintings, “testify to O’Keeffe’s ability to make herself at home anywhere.”
The New York Botanical Garden exhibition will run from Saturday May 19, 2018 until Sunday October 28, 2018.
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