Art Palace

Bye bye, for the Bayou City

Art Palace's new home in Isabella Court
Art Palace's new home in Isabella Court

In the Department of You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone: This is the week that Art Palace packs up its Eastside digs and hustles to Houston. Sigh.

Arturo Palacios' gallery-in-a-house on East Cesar Chavez may have been in operation just four and a half years, but in that time it became a vital showplace for dynamic young artists on the local scene. Sterling Allen, Peat Duggins, Ali Fitzgerald, Heyd Fontenot, Nathan Green, Jonathan Marshall, Michael Sieben, Eric Zimmerman – all showed there, and their exhibitions were consistently acclaimed as among the most exciting and noteworthy in the city. The Chronicle's Visual Arts writers always included Art Palace shows on their end-of-year Top 10 lists, and three years in a row, Art Palace shows earned the Austin Critics Table Award for Outstanding Solo Gallery Exhibition, with a Gallery, Body of Work Award going to Art Palace itself in 2006. And it wasn't just locals paying attention: The gallery was recognized in a 2007 Art in America article, "Report From Austin, Art by Southwest," and in a 2006 piece for The New York Times by fashion writer Cathy Horyn. Palacios became a notable presence at major art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach and Volta NY, helping secure a place for those emerging local artists in the world outside Austin.

With that in mind, the Houston move can be seen as a natural step in Art Palace's evolution. As Palacios told Chronicle contributor Kate Watson in an interview for the online art magazine Glasstire: "I will be aided by being in a city that can act as more of a 'portal' to the outside world. I will be collaborating with Eleanor Williams [former director of Finesilver Gallery and Lawndale Art Center], who will help export my artists' work into larger art markets. Also, I'll be planting myself next to two well-respected commercial galleries, Inman and CTRL Gallery." That would be in Isabella Court, a historic structure at 3913 Main St. This new venue will at last allow Art Palace to keep real gallery hours. Forget the "handful of hours on Wednesday and Saturday" business; now it's Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm. You'll be able to check it out yourself after the new Art Palace goes live on Jan. 15, 2010, with a exhibition by Jonathan Marshall.

Palacios insists that he will continue to have a presence in Austin, setting up periodic exhibitions in independent venues. We hope so, considering how much he's done to develop the city's visual arts community over the past dozen years as gallery director for Galeria Sin Fronteras, curator of the Dougherty Arts Center's Butridge Gallery, and one of the founders of the Texas Biennial. For now, however, we'll have to be content with his farewell exhibition in the house on Cesar Chavez. "One on One on One" includes work by a number of Art Palace regulars – Jules Buck Jones, Sarah Frantz, Carlos Rosales-Silva, Matthew Rodriguez, Barry Stone, Sonya Berg, Sterling Allen, and collaborative work by Michael Sieben and Nathan Green – who were invited to present a new idea or recontextualize existing work. Fitting, since that's pretty much what Palacios will be doing with his gallery in the Bayou City. Check it out before it's gone, and offer Palacios a word of thanks for Art Palace's contributions to our scene.

"One on One on One" is on view through Dec. 5, Saturday, noon-5pm, and by appointment, at Art Palace, 2109 E. Cesar Chavez. For more information, call 496-0687 or visit

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Art Palace, Arturo Palacios, Austin visual art, Sterling Allen, Jonathan Marshall

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