Linda Pace, an artist, collector and philanthropist, was driven by the belief that art is a vital social force. As an artist, she exposed the symbolic potency of everyday images and objects in her drawings and assemblages. As a collector she gathered more than 500 contemporary artworks into a personal and expressive collection, which reflects many of the critical strands of recent art. And as a philanthropist, she boldly fostered the work of today’s most adventurous artists through the founding of Artpace San Antonio, an international contemporary art program sited in her Texas hometown.
Pace was born April 17, 1945 to David Earl Pace and Margaret Bosshardt Pace. Her mother, who majored in art at Sophie Newcomb in New Orleans, was descended from a German-Swiss family that at one time owned the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. Her father, who graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a degree in chemistry and history, was the son of a syrup manufacturer in Monroe, Louisiana.
In 1948, Pace’s parents started Pace Foods, a small pickle, jelly and picante sauce business. Her father called the picante sauce “the maple syrup of San Antonio.” Her mother had a painting studio at her home and taught art both at the San Antonio Art Institute and at San Antonio College. When Pace was a child, her mother taught art lessons in the family garage to Pace and her friends. In 1962, Pace graduated from St. Mary’s Hall High School in San Antonio and enrolled at Southern Methodist University as an art major. In her junior year, she transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and continued her studies in art.
On June 16, 1967, Pace married Christopher “Kit” Goldsbury, whom she’d known since the eighth grade, in San Antonio. A daughter, Mardie, was born in 1968 and a son, Christopher, was born in 1972. In 1969, Goldsbury began working at Pace Foods. He started on the production line, making the picante sauce from scratch. Meanwhile, Pace reared her children and took art classes at Trinity University. In 1980, she graduated from Trinity University with a bachelor’s degree in art. Two years later, she and Goldsbury purchased the family company and successfully expanded it to national and international markets. In 1987, Pace and Goldsbury divorced and Pace focused her attention to her own work as an artist and her commitment to supporting contemporary art.
In 1993, she founded Artpace, an artist residency, exhibition and education program in San Antonio that has garnered recognition for nurturing the creative expression of emerging and established artists, while actively engaging youth and adult audiences. After 14 years, Artpace has awarded fellowships to more than 150 artists and served as a catalyst in the careers of five MacArthur Fellows and four Turner Prize nominees. Located in a former auto dealership in downtown San Antonio, Artpace has brought more than 200 schools throughout South Texas into its exhibition program and innovative education programs. Pace once described Artpace as a “laboratory of dreams - my own as well as the artists.”
Beginning in 1976, Linda actively worked and exhibited as an artist. She frequently captured ideas from her dreams in color-pencil sketches, and diligently gathered, catalogued and worked familiar images into large assemblages. In an artist statement written in 2005, Pace described her work as follows: “I have always been interested in how the ordinary can become extraordinary. Removed from the familiarity and clutter of everyday life, utilitarian objects can convey an aesthetic power not otherwise imagined, especially when expressed through the transformative process of being rendered into works of art. The poetics of the everyday have been inspired by the realm of dreams and my work to mine the subconscious, where events or memories may acquire a transcendent quality. The drawings are a way to magnify the images that stand out to me in my dreams. As a group, they can be read as a sort of glossary of one person’s dream life. Drawing is a medium I have gravitated towards for its immediacy and spontaneity. It allows me to create imagery that seems to be meaningful. While not imagined as studies for three-dimensional objects, these drawings have occasionally become the basis for sculpture, when the images suggest a need for further exploration beyond the intimate space of drawing.” Her work has been included in exhibitions in the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center in San Antonio, as well as numerous commercial galleries and private collections.
London-based contemporary filmmaker Isaac Julien, who got to know Pace during his Artpace residency in 1999, said that Pace will be remembered as “the artist’s collector.” “By that I mean because not only was Linda a patron of the arts and of individual artists, she was herself an artist,” said Julien. “She understood our plight and what we need to make art.”
In 2005 Pace built CHRISpark, a one-acre public green space in San Antonio, in honor of her son, who died in 1997. The park features a rhythmic layout of lush foliage, inviting walkways, areas of repose, sites of play, and most significantly, encounters with art. Respected contemporary artist, Teresita Fernandez, conceived visual experiences in the park which commemorates the potential of everyday occurrences. Privately maintained by the Linda Pace Foundation and freely open to the public, CHRISpark reiterates Pace’s visionary commitment to building community through gifts advancing art and promoting education.
In addition to her work in San Antonio, Pace served on the national committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the national council of the Aspen Art Museum, a member of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen, a member of the arts advisory committee at The Aspen Institute, a member of the board of trustee at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York, a member of the international council of the Tate Gallery and won numerous awards for her commitment to artistic distinction.
Linda Pace died on July 2, 2007, at her home in San Antonio following a vigorous battle with breast cancer. Today, her generous legacy continues through the efforts of the Linda Pace Foundation, which manages her collection and promotes the production and display of contemporary art in Texas and beyond.