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Tips For Creating A Perfect Modern Art Gallery Wall

From the Blanton Museum of Art's Assistant Curator, Evan Garza

When we visited Evan Garza, assistant curator at the Blanton, and his writer husband Michael Brodeur's home for our February feature "Love Now," we fell in love with their modern art collection, which is perfectly displayed on a gallery wall.

Inspired by Garza's impeccable taste and art display, we asked him for pro-tips on creating our own modern art collections.

Above: Evan Garza's home gallery wall. The artists, from left to right: Laurel Sparks, William Cordova, T.M. Davy, Lawrence Weiner, José Luis Cuevas, Matthew Rich, Ed Ruscha, Zoe Nelson, Carlos Rosales-Silva,Summer Wheat.

Where can people in Austin find exciting art?

Texas has one of the most exciting and approachable contemporary art scenes in the country, full of world class museums like the Blanton and hundreds of commercial galleries, each with their own unique program. There are several galleries and artist-run nonprofit spaces in Austin, like MASS Gallery and Co-Lab Projects, full of regional, national and international talent, and Austinites are really hungry for unique work. East Austin Studio Tours impresses every year, particularly because my husband and I love design — furniture, ceramics, concert posters designed by artists and screenprinters. At this year’s EAST we went wild at Keith Kreeger’s ceramics studio even before we learned he was from Cape Cod. There’s no shortage of vision or talent here in Austin, and the artists you meet are warm and impressive. Supporting living artists is something everyone in Austin should get behind.

What do you look for when buying art for your personal home?

Our personal collection is a reflection of a decade of me working with artists as an independent curator in Boston and the co-founder of Fire Island Artist Residency in New York. So most of the artists in the collection are friends who I’ve done projects with before arriving in Austin, artists who we deeply admire and love, like Laurel Sparks, Elijah Burgher, Travis Boyer, Summer Wheat, Eve Fowler, Steve Locke. I don’t ‘look for’ something when buying art; that’s never made sense to me. Some of our favorites are works that were wedding gifts by artists like Chris Bogia and Alex Da Corte.

The Ed Ruscha print was something of an engagement gift to Brodeur in 2010. We love Ruscha’s work and we’re both text/typography fanatics, so this Country Cityscapes series of photogravures seemed so significant to me because Ruscha’s famous text had been redacted by white fields. Brodeur and I have each worked as editors. The title of the print is “Your A Dead Man” with 'you’re’ intentionally depicted as a typo — something that would’ve normally driven us crazy but instead here was remarkable. We took a ferry to Provincetown and I slipped an engagement ring inside a folded jpeg print-out of the work and wrote “WILL U MARRY ME?” within the white redactions. (He said yes!)

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Evan Garza and Michael Brodeur in their home in front of a piece entitled, "Black Hole II" by Chris Bogia.

What attracts you to works of art?

I would characterize it as being attracted to artists. You can see an artist’s hand in everything they produce. If you were to ask someone what attracted them to a song, it’s the artist they’d be responding to — the kind of language the artist is using, their style, their references, their perspective, how those things are being presented. Art was the only thing I ever wanted to own besides music, and I think those impulses originate in a similar place.

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