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Daring Sculptural Works Highlight the Contemporary’s Jones Center Reopening

The Contemporary Austin

Art Pick: The Contemporary

Nov. 26 2016 – Feb. 26, 2017
“With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work In Progress)”
The Contemporary Austin / The Jones Center
700 Congress Ave.

Tangled steel studded with concrete chunks. Seven-foot-tall letters in iridescent hues that read “With Liberty and Justice for All.” The Contemporary’s two new sculptural exhibitions, by Monika Sonowska and Jim Hodges, respectively, that will accompany the Jones Center’s reopening on December 16, evince starkly different artistic bents. Hodges’ “With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)” literally spells out his powerful themes, while Polish artist Sonowska’s abstract, architecturally inspired “Habitat” offers mere hints at meaning.

Heather Pesanti, The Contemporary’s senior curator, said that both artists are excitingly apropos for the reopening and for the moment we find ourselves in. “Sonowska’s proposal for our space was both revelatory and playfully imaginative,” said Pesanti. “The first floor, in particular, will have an immensely dislocating and fascinating effect on a viewer’s experience of the building. We also commissioned several new works, which viewers will encounter on the second floor. I can’t say it’s inconsequential either that we are re-opening this museum with a major exhibition of a female artists during this particular election year.”

Hodges’ work, on loan from the artist, will span two sides of the Jones Center’s rooftop and “presents an opportunity for our museum to exhibit a landmark sculpture that will be visible to all from the streets below, day and night,” Pesanti said. But the physical aspect of Hodges’ sculpture is just the beginning. “The artist sees community engagement with underserved communities as an integral aspect of the project’s broader reach,” Pesanti noted. “As part of this, we will be implementing a series of bus wraps, public programs and film screenings. And in this election year, located only a few blocks from the State Capitol, I think we hope this work will be a particularly important marker for the community.”

Read more from the People Issue | December 2016