Who says there's no good news these days? With the announcement last week that its Architect Selection Committee had chosen a finalist in the search for an architect to design a permanent downtown facility, the Austin Museum of Art
provided the city with news that was not only good — it was wonderful. The decision moves the institution one more step out from under the cloud that has been hovering over this project for more than a decade, ever since the city went through its last economic bust and the museum's plans for a new home downtown — one elegantly designed by Robert Venturi
, no less — went bust with it. The ensuing years saw financial troubles and real estate woes and cross-cultural art wars and institutional staff changes all cast deep shadows over the AMOA's downtown dream, but the museum faithfully persevered and during the last five years especially, they've fought, hard-won step by hard-won step, to bring the project back into the light. They've secured a new piece of land for the facility, won back the favor of the city, opened temporary galleries downtown, hired an impressive new director, begun accumulating the serious cash that will ensure the building's construction, and now they've selected an architect to design the new museum space at Guadalupe and Third streets. That the committee's choice was Richard Gluckman
of Gluckman Mayner Architects
, New York City (chosen over the similarly impressive Atelier Christian de Portzamparc
, Paris, Moshe Safdie and Associates
, Boston and Toronto), was further cause for rejoicing. Gluckman is what you might call a marquee name in the architecture biz today, at least where museum design is concerned. He's been the architect on several high-profile projects of late — the permanent collection galleries of the Whitney Museum of American Art
in New York, the Andy Warhol Museum
in Pittsburgh, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
in Santa Fe, the Dia Cultural Center for the Arts
in New York — and his work has consistently won very high marks, both for the quality of the design and the way Gluckman brings light into his buildings. In contrast to museums of the past that insulated themselves from natural illuminations, Gluckman's museums find ways to let the sunshine in, as it were. Art and its patrons bathe in light. That approach seems terrifically well-suited to a museum in a city that prizes the outdoors as much as Austin does, and it bodes well for AMOA that Gluckman already has ample experience — with the O'Keeffe in Santa Fe and as a finalist to design the Museum of Modern Art
in Fort Worth — in negotiating this approach with the frequently punishing sun of the Southwest. So, in more ways than one, Gluckman's selection takes AMOA from the shadows to the light. Look for Gluckman to visit Austin in October, when he will speak to the public about his plans for the new building. Call 495-9224 for more info.
Whose mug is that smiling from the pages of the new issue of American Theatre? None other than Austin's own Vicky Boone, humble artistic director of Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre and one of our city's finest artists. She's one of the dynamic "Women in Theatre" profiled in the issue (right next to Ruby Dee, don't ya know?) and is given a lovely profile by Austin American-Statesman critic Jamie Smith Canterra.