‘Tangible/Nothing’ at Ruby City Provides a New Look at the Linda Pace Foundation Collection – San Antonio Magazine

With its red concrete lines and shimmering scarlet glass, Ruby City gleams like a rare stone in downtown San Antonio. The renowned architect Sir David Adjaye, OBE, brought the late San Antonio artist and art collector Linda Pace’s vision to life when he built this iconic, crimson-colored exhibition space that appeared to her in a dream before her death in 2007.

Today, the two-story, 14,000 square-foot building is an ambitious contemporary art center and the site of a new show entitled Tangible / Nothing, on view from Sept. 9 through July 30, 2023. The show, which is only the second full exhibition to open since the venue debuted in 2019, includes roughly 50 works from local, national and international artists, and explores the ways that artists use both tangible and intangible subjects to express their truths.

In the building’s bright white staircase, a silver cloud by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle hangs in limbo beneath a skylight. The luminous shape imbues the viewer with a fleeting feeling, as if in one gust, the cloud might slip away and into the ether.

Bitchen Stove by Katie Pell, photo courtesy Ruby City

On the second level, artists explore the layered meaning behind everyday objects, like irons, shoes and brooms. The late San Antonio artist Katie Pell’s 2006 Bitchen Stove installation, for example, uses a household stove to address the artist’s dismissal of rigid gender associations. Pell, who passed away in 2019, transformed the appliance into something akin to a “hot-rod” through an electric pink and purple paintjob. In its initial installation, flames shot through the burners, extinguishing the space between masculine and feminine domains.

Other works investigate the subtle stories and moments of wonder that emerge from vacuums and voids. Teresita Fernández’s 2011 work Night Writing (Tristan and Isolde) is a powerful example of this. Using a picture of the aurora borealis, the artist printed a passage from the famed tale Tristan and Isolde in braille on paper, and laid it atop a mirror. Like stars in the night, the work glimmers as people pass it, inviting all to ponder what it means.

As the director of Ruby City since 2020, Elyse A. Gonzales noticed this distinction between tangibility and intangibility throughout the collection, so much so that she made it the basis of her first curated exhibition.

Photo courtesy Ruby City

Walking through the light-filled gallery on opening day, Gonzales points out a framework of themes, from identity and gender to mortality and memory. “A lot of these themes are layered and connected to one another,” she says.

Tying the exhibition together is a collection of work that memorializes Pace’s legacy, like Nate Cassie’s 1998 photograph Eyes, which offers an intimate portrait of Pace’s left eye as it gazes out over the gallery. Meanwhile, a series of photographs by Adam Schreiber, taken in Pace’s Camp Street penthouse in 2011, invite viewers to ponder the life she lived and the art that lives on in perpetuity.

See the Installation

Tangible/Nothing

Sept. 9-July 30, 2023

150 Camp Street

Open Thurs-Sun, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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