grayDUCK Gallery

Jill Schroeder's art space ends hiatus, reopens in bigger digs on East Cesar Chavez

Art by Leigh Anne Lester
Art by Leigh Anne Lester

grayDUCK Gallery, which closed its original venue off South First last December, is finally reopening on East Cesar Chavez this weekend.

"It took a lot longer than we'd thought," says Jill Schroeder, owner and curator of the gallery that, in its earlier iteration, showcased excellent works by Megan Kimber, Hector Hernandez, William Hundley, John Mulvany, Cherie Weaver, the Sodalitas group, and so many others. "We wanted to open back in February, but we didn't expect to do as much work as we wound up doing. Once we dug into the walls, we, ah, got a lot of surprises. And we're going to build a deck for the street entrance, too – we had to demolish what was out there. The new one's gonna be just one level, and we're going to be doing that this weekend [the 26th of April], so that should be ready to go. But there's a lot more left. We'll probably still be working, putting the last layer of paint on, half an hour before the opening."

The inaugural exhibition for the new space is a solo show by San Antonio's Leigh Anne Lester, inspired by genetic modification and featuring detailed representations of plant species, and the artist's colorful array of layered drawings and wall installations look to be impressive enough to match grayDUCK's new and improved digs.

"In my drawings," notes Lester's artist statement for the show, "I utilize historical botanicals on layers of semi-transparent drafting film with a botanical drawn on each layer ... Elements of each of the species mix and tangle their visual attributes, intermingling disparate species of flora much like a palimpsest with divergent layers and characteristics perceptible beneath the surface."

Much like language, we suggest, with its sometimes multiple connotations. So let's be specific about the adjectives we've affixed to grayDUCK Gallery's renascence here.

"New" means, for instance, an entire room – with 17-and-a-half-foot ceilings – added on to what was the back of the former residence. And "improved" means, among other things, custom-made pocket doors that pull out of a section of the west wall and conceal the kitchen and bar during regular gallery hours, when those elements aren't being used to enhance a reception. Also, "We're actually going to have a title wall for the first time!" says Schroeder with unabashed glee. This new venue boasts improvement in sheer floor area, too: The old grayDUCK was 1,300 square feet; this reborn 'DUCK, just a few blocks away from high-end pizza joint Bufalina, charts in at 1,500 with its combination of upgraded floorboards and polished concrete. And of course, there are those tall, tall ceilings in the back.

"We have a lot more wall space this time," affirms Schroeder. "And it's funny, because the first time Leigh Anne came in to see the space, she was like, 'Holy crap, I've got a lot of work to do!'"

And that work, we presume, will (like the interior of the elegant gallery itself) be fully finished in time for the opening reception for Lester's "Venomous Cabbage and Other Demands Satisfied": Friday, May 2, 6-10pm, at 2213 E. Cesar Chavez.

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grayDUCK Gallery, Austin visual art, Jill Schroeder, Leigh Anne Lester

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