The Austin Chronicle

In Memoriam: Linda Pace and Javier Arista

By Robert Faires, July 27, 2007, Arts

Belated condolences to the family and friends of Linda Pace, artist and founder of Artpace, who died Monday, July 2, from complications of breast cancer. She was 62. The heir to the Pace Foods company was one of San Antonio's leading philanthropists and patrons of the arts. In 1995, she was inspired to create a program for visiting artists that would give them a studio and two months to create whatever they liked. She acquired an old car dealership on Main Avenue in Downtown San Antonio and transformed it into the home for Artpace. Now, three times a year, the Artpace Foundation invites three artists -- one from Texas, one from another part of the U.S., and one from outside the country -- for a two-month residency. One of the first artists to take part, Australian Tracey Moffatt, calls it the world's best contemporary artist residency program. Certainly, it's made its mark in the art world. In a recent Whitney Museum Biannual, 13 winning artists had been Artpace residents.

Pace, however, was not just someone who enabled others to make art. She made art herself, most famously creating mixed-media collages composed of stuffed animals, cheap trinkets and souvenirs, and other similar objects. Her work Mirror, Mirror, a fabricated 9-foot mirrored igloo that viewers could crawl into, was featured in the 2007 Texas Biennial here in Austin and nominated for Outstanding Work of Art by the Austin Critics Table. Despite her illness, Pace kept up her studio work, completing a series of drawings based on her dreams that was exhibited in a one-woman show at the Joan Grona Gallery. Following treatment at the Salem Oncology Centre in Houston, Pace returned to San Antonio and spent her last days at her apartment. She was a major force in the Texas arts whose passing will be felt deeply.

Closer to home, a young actor who appeared on the cover of the Chronicle last year has died. Javier Arista was one of five performers in the Austin Community College production In2 the West who made the cover shot for the story "The 'West' Shall Rise Again," April 2006. He was having a busy year in the theatre, having appeared in the Austin Community College production of Blood Wedding just prior to In2 the West and the Tongue & Groove Theatre production An Arabian Midsummer Night's Dream just after, but late last summer he took a break for a monthlong backpacking trip through Mexico to Costa Rica and back. After his return, he experienced some paralysis on the right side of his face and made a trip to Dallas to see his doctor. He left Austin, never imagining that he wouldn't be back here. But doctors discovered an inoperable tumor on his brain stem, and he was hospitalized almost immediately. He fought for his life for another nine months, but on Sunday, June 24, Arista finally lost the battle. He is survived by his parents, Isabel and Thomas Arista; his brothers, Stefan and Martin; and his sister, Celeste. He will be missed.

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