South American Flavor

Step inside Houston's new art gallery: It's a stunning game changer

Step inside Houston's new art gallery: It's a stunning game changer

Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
The large window will soon host front and rear projections.  Photo by Whitney Radley
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
The gallery directors' offices (right) open out into a light-filled research library.   Photo by Whitney Radley
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
The library serves as an invaluable resource on South American art.  Photo by Whitney Radley
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
A downstairs gallery space will host larger exhibitions.  Photo by Whitney Radley
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012
Sicardi Gallery, new building, June 2012

If you haven't had a chance to stop by the new Sicardi Gallery since its June 7 opening, take my advice: Do. 

The space, designed by Fernando Brave of Brave / Architecture, is much bigger than the gallery's earlier home behind the McClain Gallery, allowing significantly more room for display and maximum versatility, with added bonuses of ample natural light, peeks of Montrose treetops and close proximity to the Menil campus. 

"We tried to make a lot of the spaces available to artists," co-director Allison Ayers tells CultureMap, citing dark window coverings that can transform the light-filled galleries into dark rooms, and outlets and projector set-ups that allow multiple display opportunities. 

 Upstairs, just past that small gallery, floor-to-ceiling windows in the directors' offices open out onto a sunny research room and a small balcony. 

 A solo show made up of mixed media works, photographs and videos by Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz, on display through August 25, seems well-suited to showcase the adaptability of the new space. Newspapers line low-profile tabletops in the large, bright downstairs exhibition space, and single-channel video projections loop in the second floor gallery. 

Upstairs, just past that small gallery, floor-to-ceiling windows in the directors' offices open out onto a sunny research room and a small balcony. 

"Artists and curators from South America like to look at our library," Ayers says. "And we always work closely with institutions and universities on research."

The library is alphabetized, arranged by country and by topic, filled with information on artistic movements, historical documents and artists that the gallery represents.

Ayers sees room for growth, but acknowledges that the Sicardi library serves as a great resource on South American art. The research room is available by appointment. 

Forthcoming projects include a projection window that faces West Alabama Street (Ayers expects that to be finished this summer) and an outdoor community space to be shared with Dillon Kyle Architecture, the gallery's future neighbors.

The gallery also looks for special curated projects and exhibitions that complement the gallery's master artists with younger, more contemporary ones — like Carlos Cruz-Diez and Pedro Tyler, who have a show opening on September 6

But you should stop by before then.