Marcus Foundation donates $1.1 million for Waller Creek public art

The future of public art along Austin’s Waller Creek received major support thanks to a $1.1 million donation from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation that was announced today.

Melba Whatley, chair of the Dallas-based foundation, made the announcement at the preview opening of “Hurlyburly,” a massive, site-specific installation made of re-purposed lobster rope by artist Orly Genger that is on view on a stretch of public park adjacent to the Waller Creek Boathouse.

Orly Genger's "Hurly Burly" is made of re-purposed lobster rope painted scen different shades of blue.
Orly Genger’s “Hurlyburly” is made of re-purposed lobster rope painted five different shades of blue. Genger repainted rope used in a previous installation in Austin, recycling the material once again. Photo: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.

The $1.1 million is being donated to the Contemporary Austin to facilitate a new collaboration between the museum and the Waller Creek Conservancy, the private nonprofit spearheading the transformation of the 1.5 mile stretch of Waller Creek downtown.

Last month, the two private nonprofit organizations announced that they had initiated a partnership to realize more art projects along Waller Creek with “Hurlyburly” being the first.

“Waller Creek has a plenty of issues that it must attend to as it develops, and bringing in the curatorial and art world expertise of the Contemporary to guide public art makes sense,”  said Whately who is on the board of both the Conservancy and the Contemporary. “The city profits enormously when there is a collaboration like this.”

In 2013, the Marcus Foundation gave the Contemporary $9 million to create the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at the museum’s 12-acre Laguna Gloria.

Since then, the museum has added significant outdoor artworks to its collection and commissioned important site-specific temporary installations.

The newly donated money will provide support for similar permanent or temporary art projects along Waller Creek.

“This gift from the Marcus Foundation allows us to follow our ‘museum without walls’ philosophy — to dovetail with Waller Creek’s goals and to share our resources to bring the best projects to the community,” said Louis Grachos, executive director of the Contemporary.

Two years ago, the Contemporary commissioned Genger to create “Current” for the amphitheater at Laguna Gloria. It also was made of re-puporsed lobster rope, the artist’s ‘s signature material.

“Hurlyburly” will be on view through February 2017.

Visitors may sit, walk or play on Orly Genger’s “Hurlyburly,” made of repurposed lobster rope painted five different shades of blue. Photo: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.


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