Marcus Foundation donates $1.1 million for Waller Creek public art


The future of public art along Austin’s Waller Creek received major support thanks to a $1.1 million donation from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation that was announced Wednesday.

Melba Whatley, chair of the Dallas-based foundation, made the announcement at the preview opening of “Hurlyburly,” a massive, site-specific installation made of repurposed lobster rope by artist Orly Genger that is on view on a stretch of public park adjacent to the Waller Creek Boathouse.

On hand for the announcement were Mayor Steve Adler; City Council Members Kathie Tovo, Leslie Pool and Sabino “Pio” Renteria; and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin.

The $1.1 million is being donated to the Contemporary Austin to facilitate a new collaboration between the museum and the Waller Creek Conservancy, the private nonprofit spearheading the transformation of the 1.5-mile stretch of Waller Creek downtown.

Last month, the two private nonprofit organizations announced that they had initiated a partnership to realize more art projects along Waller Creek, with “Hurlyburly” being the first.

“Waller Creek has a plenty of issues that it must attend to as it develops, and bringing in the curatorial and art world expertise of the Contemporary to guide public art makes sense,” said Whatley, who is on the board of both the Conservancy and the Contemporary. “The city profits enormously when there is a collaboration like this.”

In 2013, the Marcus Foundation gave the Contemporary $9 million to create the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at the museum’s 12-acre Laguna Gloria site along Lake Austin.

Since then, the museum has added significant outdoor artworks to its collection as well as commissioned important site-specific temporary installations.

The newly donated money will provide support for similar art projects along Waller Creek.

“This gift from the Marcus Foundation allows us to follow our ‘museum without walls’ philosophy — to dovetail with Waller Creek’s goals and to share our resources to bring the best projects to the larger community beyond our own sites,” said Louis Grachos, executive director of the Contemporary. “This is true collection sharing — a way for us to share art with an even greater public.”

Two years ago, the Contemporary commissioned Genger to create the repurposed rope installation “Current” for the amphitheater at Laguna Gloria. For “Hurlyburly,” the New York-based artist repainted the rope used for the Laguna Gloria installation, recycling the material once again.

“Hurlyburly” will be celebrated Saturday with a family-friendly public opening from noon to 3 p.m. The installation will remain on view through February 2017.



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