Contemporary Austin reopens Jones Center in Nov. with major outdoor installation on Congress Ave.

The Contemporary Austin has announced the opening date of the Jones Center, the museum’s Congress Avenue gallery building currently undergoing a $3 million expansion and upgrade.

And the museum will debut some impressive art when it does re-open.

The Jones Center galleries will open Nov. 22 with “Habitat” Polish artist Monika Sosnowska’s largest solo museum exhibition in a U.S. museum.

Then, Dec. 16 and 17, the museum will celebrate a major permanent installation that will ring its renovated rooftop.

Stretching nearly 145 feet across the museum’s prominent south- and east-facing facades Jim Hodges’s “With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)” is made of seven-foot colorful letters, glimmering with iridescent dichroic film and lit at night from within by LED lights.

The sculpture will ring the new 21-foot-tall canopy currently being built over the roof deck of the gallery building, part of a $3 million improvement project.

Rendering of Jim Hodges “With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)” ringing the remodeled Moody Rooftop deck of the Jones Center at Congress Avenue and Seventh St. Artwork © the artist.

Hodges, who frequently uses text as the basis of his art work, intends the piece to be open-ended and ripe for multiple interpretations and conversations. The sculpture — a previous version of which was debuted at the Aspen Art Museum in 2014 — will shift in color at night.

“It will be visible and available to all,” said Heather Pesanti, the Contemporary’s senior curator. “Although Hodges intended no particular political or didactic meaning, we look forward to the conversations that it will spark, especially poised, as it is, over Congress Avenue, just blocks from the State Capitol building.”

The Contemporary began the renovation project in April.

Inside, the Jones Center galleries will be expanded by 7,000 square feet and climate controls upgraded to meet museum industry specifications. The fire-suppression systems will be vastly improved and a new hefty hydraulic lift will move art work between floors.

The improvements to the galleries will allow the museum to organize much larger-scale original shows and host touring exhibitions of considerably greater size and breadth than it previously has.

The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center under renovation. Photo by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.
The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center under renovation. Photo by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.

The Contemporary is also building a 21-foot-tall canopy over the roof deck of the Jones Center. The permanent canopy, the deck’s open-air space the location and film screen a popular site for events.

The $3 million project is funded through a $1.3 million grant, board donations and a bridge loan.
And it’s designed by Paul Lewis of LTL Architects, the same architect of the major renovation of the 21,000-square-foot Jones Center in 2010.

Sosnowska’s exhibit should show off the Jones Center’s new galleries especially well.

The Polish artist will exhibit her large-scale, expansive sculpture and transform the galleries into site-specific backdrops for her works.

Working in her Warsaw studio, surrounded by the crumbling remnants of the Soviet period, Sosnowska draws inspiration from the now-crumbling Soviet-era architecture, the Brutualist structures from 1960s and 1970s.

Monika Sosnowska's "Untitled," is about ten-feet by ten-feet in size. Artwork © Monika Sosnowska. Courtesy the artist.
Monika Sosnowska’s “Untitled,” is about ten feet by ten feet in size. Artwork © Monika Sosnowska. Courtesy the artist.

Re-imagining the post-Communist architectural detritus of Warsaw, Sosnowska creates her massive sculptures from industrial materials such as steel, concrete and PVC pipe.

“Habitat” will feature several major sculptures commissioned specifically for this exhibition, along with a series of existing works from the last two years.

Since 2015, Sosnowska’s related, large-scale sculpture “The stairs” has been on view at the Contemporary’s outdoor site, the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria.

Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s