Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Lisica.
Cindy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Art and culture have been present in my life since a very young age. Being from a mixed ethnic heritage and growing up in a rural area, I have always had an appreciation for the creative expression that art and visual culture offers. I went to undergrad at Penn State (main campus), where I majored in Fine Art and minored in Creative Writing. After college, I got my first museum job at The Andy Warhol Museum in the Visitor Services Department, followed by a professional internship in the Archives. I was most interested in becoming an art curator and decided to pursue graduate school in Los Angeles, earning my MA in Modern and Contemporary Art from California State University, Long Beach. During that time, I began what would become a much larger project on the work of Takashi Murakami and also held a handful of art-related jobs that shaped my career path from the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA-LA), to being a commercial gallery assistant in West Hollywood, a university teaching assistant, and a graphic designer. It was around that time that I decided that I would open and run a contemporary art gallery, but I sought more experience developing my own vision first.
So, I left Los Angeles for what I considered to be the opposite of it — Paris. I initially moved there for the summer with two suitcases and zero friends. The summer of 2005 turned into a 2+ year stint, during which time I worked in various jobs while attending classes at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and I also co-curated a large scale group exhibition at La Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière. After France, I moved to London where I worked in the Tate Research Centre (for the Tate Britain and Tate Modern museums) and completed my PhD in History and Theory of Art from the University of the Arts London in the Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN).
I decided it was time to return “home” in 2011. The Warhol Museum, where I had initially cut my teeth in the art world nine years earlier, invited me back for an amazing opportunity to work there once again in the collections. I was on a specialized team to install “Andy Warhol: Fifteen Minutes Eternal” in 5 cities across China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan over a 3-year period. I also set up the largest traveling exhibition of Warhol’s “Time Capsules” at the MAC (Musée d’Art Contemporain) in Marseille, France.
I opened my first gallery “Revision Space” in the Art and Design district of Pittsburgh and was an adjunct professor in the East Asian Department at the University of Pittsburgh, where I met my partner (a geophysicist). When he was called to Houston for his job in 2014, I began to look for my own opportunities and moved to Houston to join him at the start of 2015. I worked in the Collections Department at the Menil and taught art history at the University of Houston, while I began to get to know the gallery scene. I kept Revision Space going in Pittsburgh for another year before I decided to try out my program at the TX Contemporary Art Fair (http://txcontemporary.com) at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This is where I met many of the other gallery owners and museum curators of Houston. Two months later in January 2016, I opened Cindy Lisica Gallery at 4411 Montrose. Now we’re in our third year – it’s working!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I wouldn’t call it a “smooth road”, but nothing worth doing is. It’s been a lot of forks and intersections! It is great that people are very welcoming in Houston and also paying attention to what we do.
One of the ongoing challenges is straddling the crossover between the academic, institutional and commercial aspects of the art world. I think it’s important to continue to encourage people to navigate and create their own definitions and place in the art world. There should be a “way in” for anyone that is even curious about it. We all can live with art and gain from it in so many ways.
Tell us about your business/company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
My gallery exhibits emerging, mid-career, and established artists from Houston and around the world and connects their work with audiences and collectors. Just in the last several months, we’ve exhibited painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography by local artists Rachel Gardner, Jennifer McClish, Angel Oloshove, Shangyi Hua (from Taiwan), and Jan Rattia (from Venezuela), as well as Nicaraguan Javier Valle Pérez (based in Managua) and Welsh artist Charles Uzzell Edwards/Pure Evil (based in London). Next up is Petra Nováková Ondreičková from Prague, who has shown at the Venice Biennale (her show “Biotope” opens September 7th), followed by a group exhibition including Jae Ko (who had a solo show at CAMH two years ago). Next year we will bring artwork from Japan, Colombia, and Ghana, as well as fantastic regional art stars.
What I’m “most proud of” and what “sets me apart” as a gallerist is my connection to international art and the academic community. The mission of the gallery is to recognize and contribute to the development of talented and dedicated artists’ careers and to produce the initial gallery shows that will lead them into future art history, as creators of visual culture. The clients entrust us to provide artwork for their collections that not only enhances their daily lives but is also an investment in the future.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
It’s always important to not only know about what is going on in various places but to participate in them as well, so we’re currently working on a number of collaborations, in addition to the regular roster of solo and thematic group exhibitions. In the coming months, we will present exhibitions for Sculpture Month Houston and PrintHouston, and we will also participate in art fairs in Houston, Washington DC, Mexico City and New York. I am guest curating a show in Pittsburgh during the Carnegie International in December, and I’m also a Steering Committee member of the Houston Art Gallery Association (HAGA) – http://artgallerieshouston.com which has about 30 gallery members (and growing) with the combined goal of improving the conditions of the art market and developing the city as an international destination for art.
In the larger context of the “industry”, I see more exposure through various outlets, including social media and the continued use of digital technology as artists comment on, record, and even invent history. I think that those galleries who recognize their own vital role will thrive, as long as there are people who value what we do. The current political climate is both a challenge and a call to action for the creative industries. We have to do the legwork to provide and enhance the future of art history. We also need the support of everyone who believes that our society is positively impacted and improved by the presence of art in it – from our own private homes to large institutional and public collections. Younger audiences have access to so many different forms of communication, and our success lies in engaging with the new while also nodding to tradition along the way. We need to know and respect the past, while living in the present, and defining the future.
- Address: 4411 Montrose Blvd. Houston, TX 77006
- Website: http://cindylisicagallery.com
- Phone: 713-807-7760
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org