Austin Way: Meet Austin’s First Ladies of Culture



Blank canvas: Suzanne Deal Booth’s career has spanned the globe and art world alike. An art historian, conservationist, and philanthropist, the native Texan serves on a number of museum boards and is co-founder of the Friends of Heritage Preservation.

Mentor musings: She tributes her longtime mentor, art collector and philanthropist Dominique de Menil of Houston’s Menil Collection, for her love of classic and eclectic culture. “There were objects from all different centuries that she would pull together, like a puzzle, and tell a story in a room,” says Booth.

Magnum opus: Since settling here nine years ago, Booth has been investing in Austin’s visual art scene. Her latest endowment, in association with The Contemporary Austin, is the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize: a biennial award of $100,000 and a solo exhibit to an artist of any age. “The arts are a critical part of what determines who we are and how we address our history,” she says. “There’s room in Austin to encourage the next step: an enlightened cultural environment.”


Cultured Magazine: THE TRANSFORMER


Suzanne Deal Booth. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

Like one of the collecting areas she favors, Suzanne Deal Booth is a Renaissance woman. She’s also a bit of anomaly in the contemporary arena, so much so that when this Texas- and California-based philanthropist spoke at Frieze in 2014, they coined a special category for her—crossover collector.

“I see the similarities between those areas—the Renaissance and contemporary,” says Deal Booth. “Especially regarding my own collection, focused upon the ephemeral and meditative,” she says. Deal Booth might be the only person on the planet who groups works by James Turrell, Doug Aitken, Robert Irwin and Roni Horn with her most recent acquisition—“a gold-ground painting from a French Book of Hours, circa 1410.” She also has a 27-acre vineyard in Napa for her Booth Bella Oaks wine label, with outdoor installations by Irwin, Joel Shapiro, Yayoi Kusama and Max Ernst. “No advisors. It’s just me,” she says, relying upon an eye honed long ago under the tutelage of Dominique de Menil.

When we spoke, she’d just returned to Austin from a West Coast trip, conducting a board meeting for Friends of Heritage Preservation. She co-founded the nonprofit nearly 20 years ago to save cultural treasures and restore artworks—including a current project rescuing Napoleon’s floating gardens and tea house in Venice. These endeavors are sparked by her master’s degree from NYU in conservation and art history, and subsequent stints for institutions such as The Getty and the Kimbell Art Museum. Read more 


Twilight Epiphany: A Retrospective


James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” at Rice University is the 73rd Skyspace the artist created, but the pavilion has a little-known predecessor that would have been the very first of Turrell’s signature series.

Turrell does not draw, paint or sculpt, at least, not in the traditional senses of the terms; he creates with light. As he has put it, “I make spaces that apprehend light for our perception, and in some ways gather it, or seem to hold it…my work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing.” Using light, color theory, and the manipulation of space, Turrell often creates areas that inspire quiet meditation (rooted in his Quaker upbringing) and play tricks on our eyes.

Read more 


Frieze Week Descends on London


LONDON — With nine fairs, seven auctions, and more than 150 selling exhibitions in galleries, London’s “Frieze Week,” which starts Monday, is a hectic seven days in the art world. So many events jostle for attention, that it can be difficult for visiting collectors to decide where to spend their time, not to mention their money.

Read more