Arts / Galleries

Art Dealers at Home — Houston’s Latin American Art Pioneer Offers a Rare Look at Her Own Treasures

A PaperCity Video Series

BY // 01.15.21

This is the first edition of a new PaperCity video series on Art Dealers at Home.

As the newly minted Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston changes the art game for the museum world in Texas —  with beyond even its brilliant building, its extraordinary holdings in modern and contemporary artists, especially those from the Southern hemisphere — we fittingly look at a pioneering dealer who launched the art of collecting Latin American art in Houston, even before the MFAH.

Amid a global pandemic,  Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino’s María Inés Sicardi opens the door to her own home, a space she has spent much more time in this past year.

Filmed before the completion of the Kinder Building, and held to coincide with this brave new year, the powerhouse, and intensely private, María Inés Sicardi offers a rare peek into her interiors and shares details of artists she has assembled during a lifetime as a gallerist. (Watch the full video above this story).

What does one of America’s leading-edge art dealers — a tenacious woman who over the course of three decades has introduced us the likes of Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jesús Rafael Soto, Gego, Thomas Glassford, Melanie Smith, Julio Le Parc, the workshop Taller Torres-García and Houston-based Gustavo Díaz  — collect for her own walls?

View the video for insight into the eye of María Inés Sicardi, whose gallery is a regular at the most esteemed art fairs on two continents including Art Basel Miami Beach, Manhattan’s Armory Show and the Art Dealers Association of America’s The Art Show, Dallas Art Fair and ARTBO (Bogotá, Colombia).

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 The Grid in Modern Latin American Art exhibition at Sicardi Ayers Bacino, 2020.

Venezuelan abstract talent Mercedes Pardo’s “Iridiscencia,” 1980 and Mercedes Pardo Ponte’s “Untitled,” 1990 at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino

A half decade before the MFAH hired curator Mari Carmen Ramírez and built up its extraordinary collection, Sicardi went out on the limb of art history, and began a gallery in a modest Houston location with the premise to mine the then little known topic of modern and contemporary art from the Americas.

Flash forward 27 years, and with the addition of business partners Allison Ayers and Carlos Bacino, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino boasts a handsome kunsthalle of a gallery a block from the Menil, with an exhibition program that can only be described as vaunted.

 The Grid in Modern Latin American Art exhibition at Sicardi Ayers Bacino, 2020.

An epic work by Carlos Cruz-Diez “Physichromie Panam,” 2015 in “The Grid in Modern Latin American Art” at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, through January 16, 2021.
Francisco Sobrino, "Transformation Instable," 1971-2013
Latin American master Francisco Sobrino’s “Transformation Instable,” 1971-2013, is featured at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino.

María Inés Sicardi organized exhibits for generations of Latin American greats — titans of Venezuelan kinetic/op art Soto and Cruz-Diez are practically household names these days, and pop up at  nearly every high-level art fair. Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino gets credit for being the gallery that introduced them to Texas collectors.

The gallery works with museums and institutions on scholarship revealing the rich vein of talents and movements in this field, while serving as a source for education and connoisseurship that is a credit to the Houston community and the state.

Jesús Rafael Soto’s extraordinary "Houston Penetrable," 2004-2014, was a highlight of the Texas museum world when it was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in the summer of 2014. Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino was the first gallery to show the Venezuelan maestro Soto in Texas as well as the first dealer to exhibit his work in the South. (Photo Thomas R. DuBrock © Estate of Jesús Rafael Soto. Photo © MFAH.)
Jesús Rafael Soto’s extraordinary “Houston Penetrable,” 2004-2014, was a highlight of the Texas museum world when it was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in the summer of 2014. Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino was the first gallery to show the Venezuelan maestro in Texas as well as the first dealer to exhibit his work in the South. (Photo Thomas R. DuBrock © Estate of Jesús Rafael Soto. Photo © MFAH.)

Find more about the milestones of Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino here. Read about the gallery’s most globally noted artist, Carlos Cruz-Diez, here.

Gallery visits with social distancing measures at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino (1506 West Alabama) are available by appointment.

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