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Houston Makes Room for Two New(ish) Galleries: Capsule Gallery + Cindy Lisica Gallery

Houston Makes Room for Two New(ish) Galleries: Capsule Gallery + Cindy Lisica Gallery

Cindy Lisica at her Gallery.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Lisica Gallery.

Jennifer McClish, Hydrogen, 2016, oil and mixed media on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and Cindy Lisica Gallery.
Jennifer McClish, Hydrogen, 2016, oil and mixed media on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and Cindy Lisica Gallery.

Two gallerists have set up shop over the last year on the Houston scene: Cindy Lisica of Cindy Lisica Gallery, and Sarah Sudhoff of Capsule Gallery Cindy Lisica Gallery joined the 4411 Montrose cluster alongside Anya Tish Gallery, Barbara Davis Gallery, David Shelton Gallery, and UNIX Gallery, while Capsule Gallery is located in the Isabella Court complex in Midtown, with neighbors Inman Gallery, Kinzleman Art Consulting, Samara Gallery, Art Palace and Devin Borden Gallery.

A native of Pittsburgh, Cindy Lisica has a lengthy list of international, curatorial and professional achievements, from places such as The Andy Warhol Museum and Tate Britain. She also holds a PhD in art history from University of the Arts London and teaches part-time at the University of Houston. Lisica originally moved to Houston to join her significant other,who moved here first in 2014 for his job as a geophysicist with Ikon Science.

With her eye on Houston, she was first introduced to the scene at the 2015 Texas Contemporary Art Fair, participating as Revision Space, a contemporary art gallery she founded in Pittsburgh, which she recently closed to focus on her Houston site. “Our Pittsburgh gallery did really well at the Texas Contemporary in Houston last year, and that was a catalyst.” Now, running the gallery full time, Lisica sees her new space as a continuation. “This is how I want to spend my time, dedicating it to strong exhibitions, collections, and growing the careers of artists,” says Lisica. “4411 Montrose is a fantastic space, and, like the rest of the city, it’s an impressive mix of distinguished visions and fresh talent. It’s clear that Houston is big and populous, while still malleable, and the art community is strong and multifaceted. It’s a place where one can really make a mark.”

Twelve artists (and counting!) are represented by the Cindy Lisica Gallery. There are a few new artists coming that have never showed with her before, in addition to her previous roster from Pittsburgh. Lisica explains her approach, “Pittsburgh offers a unique cradle for artists to develop their practices, and I was fortunate to make an impact while I was there. We established connections for artists’ first museum shows, went to art fairs, and published exhibition catalogs. But Pittsburgh-based artists are actually from all over the place – from India to Denmark, Florence to San Francisco. And Houston is a huge hub, drawing from both within Texas and from the rest of the world. My gallery’s lineup here in the first year now includes two amazing artists from Houston, as well as those from Honolulu and Los Angeles. My plan is to develop a local program with an internationally connected roster bringing exciting artists from European and Asian cities.”

Her inaugural show in January 2016, Fabrizio Gerbino: One, made a strong opening statement. “Visitors were curious and enthusiastic,” recalls Lisica. “People were intrigued to see new work in what, for some, is a familiar space. It seems that the audience in Houston enjoys dialogue and also likes to know about the artistic process, which aligns very well with my own philosophy on seeing and enjoying art.”  Next up this fall is Floating In Space, an exhibition of mixed media painting and sculpture, by University of Houston MFA graduate Jennifer McClish, through Oct. 8.

Sarah Sudoff, director of Capsule Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Sarah Sudoff, director of Capsule Gallery.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Sudhoff is an established artist, arts administrator and independent curator, who served as the curator and director of Houston Center of Photography (HCP) for the first 10 months of her time in Houston. She earned her MFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design, as well as a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. Her recent G Spot Gallery show, Precious Metal, explored the practice of medical implant recycling and documented the stage following removal from human bodies.  This past summer, these photographs were also featured in FRESH at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

Capsule is her first adventure in the for-profit gallery world. “With Capsule Gallery, I have the freedom to exhibit and work with any artist who is willing to work with me,” says Sudhoff. “Plus, I have the opportunity to mix media by showing contemporary photography and contemporary craft, not something I’d been able to do in the past.”

Capsule Gallery’s focus is unique to Houston. Sudhoff explains, “I loved the idea of pairing photography and craft for several reasons. I happen to have two degrees in photography, therefore it seemed natural to focus on my own background, however, when I met my husband he introduced me to a world of makers I had never known about. We spent six years in San Antonio working with the Southwest School of Art, whose BFA program offers courses and workshops in craft and photography. It seemed only natural that when I opened my own space that it would reflect the world I’d grown so accustomed to. The exposure to ceramicists, metalsmiths, printmakers and fiber artists also greatly enriches my own studio practice.”

The gallery’s name stems from Sudhoff’s desire to encapsulate her feelings about outer space and art. “I originally applied to go to undergraduate to study astronomy, so it is as if it’s a play on a space capsule,” quips Sudhoff. “The logo also looks like a time capsule. Combining the ideas of time and space, it is like a precious, unique treasure is being held within these walls.”

Capsule Gallery launched with Jewelry Edition Vol. 2, a project co-founded by Kat Cole and Laura Wood to support and promote the work of emerging and early career jewelry artists. Quickly following the inaugural show, the gallery presented Shadows of the First Law by photographer Caleb Charland. Earlier this summer, Capsule Gallery presented Fibers of Design, a group exhibition assembled by curator and artist Carol Cunningham. The fiber-based exhibition featured the work of three women artists: Amanda Miller (San Antonio, TX.), Meghan Shimek (San Francisco, CA.), and Delaney Smith (Houston, TX.).

From July 9 – Sept. 10, the gallery exhibited Thirst. For this exhibition, Sudhoff invited metalsmiths, ceramicists and glass blowers to think about iced drinks. “We are celebrating the vessels that facilitate our enjoyment of summertime libations, albeit moscow mule, mojito, long island iced tea or more simply iced coffee or lemonade,” adds Sudhoff. Through the display of both functional and decorative devices, the audience will be encouraged to support craft and design through the collection of these items while helping offset the impact of single use beverage containers. On view now is Adam Ekberg: On The Surface of a Planet, through Oct. 22.

Adam Ekberg, An Aerosol Container in an Abandoned Peach Orchard, 2012, archival pigment print, 30x40, edition 1/3.
Adam Ekberg, An Aerosol Container in an Abandoned Peach Orchard, 2012, archival pigment print, 30×40, edition 1/3.

“I don’t want to focus so much on representation because a lot of these artists I’ve never worked with before. I want to take this first year and see what the interest of the community is, what it is like to work with them and learn how the work sells,” says Sudhoff.

Committed to “giving back and providing opportunities,” Sudhoff hopes to entice people into the space by expanding the gallery’s programming and partnerships with other organizations or universities around town. “People approach art for many different of reasons, but I mostly enjoy the educational aspect in involving the community,” says Sudhoff.

Lisica is also a community builder. “If you have the energy, commitment and the relationships you need, you end up learning so much all the time because you move around, meet people, get new ideas and help each other,” she says. “The value of connection is very much a part of art history. As a gallerist, it is very relevant and important to identify who the artists in the community are and be a voice for them.”

Sudhoff relates to Lisica’s experience mission.  “Because of the path I have chosen with contemporary craft and photography, I am embedded in both worlds,” Sudhoff explains. “Whether it is with curation, with an event, or through education, I enjoy being the connector, the person that makes it happen for everyone else.”

CATHERINE GONZALEZ