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 


Labyrinths Offer Homeowners a Pathway to Peace


“All I asked for was just a little place to walk the walk,” said Ruth Ann Harnisch, a 65-year-old philanthropist.

What she got—after a massive, two-year earthwork project at her home in New York’s Hamptons—is an 86-foot tripartite path of hand-cut stone, set in lush fescue grass.

It took 5,000 square feet of North River bluestone to create the intricately winding walkway—called a labyrinth—which has 18 looping turns and is encircled by a 300-foot-long fieldstone wall. The pavers were set in dry-pack mortar on top of concrete wire mesh, to hold them in place. An underground irrigation system was installed to keep the grass bright and shaggy.

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Sylvia Chivaratanond named the first Suzanne Deal Booth Adjunct Curator of American Art


The Centre Pompidou Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Sylvia Chivaratanond as the first Suzanne Deal Booth Adjunct Curator of American Art for the Centre Pompidou and the Centre Pompidou Foundation.  In her new role, Ms. Chivaratanond will work closely with members of the Centre Pompidou Foundation and the Centre Pompidou in Paris to develop and support their expanding programs of acquiring and seeking donations of American art.

Art historian, independent curator and critic Ms. Chivaratanond holds art history degrees from Leicester University and UCLA.  Her notable curatorial projects include exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Tate Gallery in London and the 2003 Venice Biennale. Over the past ten years she has overseen exhibitions and publications with contemporary artists including Dan Graham, Cady Noland, Christian Marclay, Isaac Julien, Robert Gober, Matthew Barney, Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, Sturtevant, James Lee Byars, and Bas Jan Ader. Read more