Visual Arts

Black Cube Travels to Texas for Mock Pavilion, Its First Out-of-State Pop-Up

Black Cube's pop-up exhibition that opens March 5 in Texas will mark a lot of firsts for the nomadic museum. This will be the first time that executive director and chief curator Cortney Stell has taken Black Cube outside of Colorado, as well as her first time working in conjunction with a San Antonio-based experimental nonprofit, Sala Diaz. As for Black Cube artist fellow Stephanie Kantor, she's embarking on her biggest “first” of all: taking over an entire house with her ceramics.

Kantor specializes in making large-scale ceramics; she says she wanted to “push the medium” for herself as well as push the boundaries for Black Cube as soon as she received the invitation from Stell to participate as an artist fellow. “In thinking about Black Cube, it has this potential to be so monumental but on an intimate scale,” Kantor says. “My work can relate in the decorative cuts and objects that are often found in a home and in household objects.”

The result is her Mock Pavilion popup. In addition to the sculptural ceramic pots that she's putting throughout the four rooms of the San Antonio house that's home to Sala Diaz, she's placing 1,600 hand-painted tiles, tapestries and custom wallpapers.

The tilework featured in Kantor’s pop-up exhibition was inspired by a recent trip to Turkey. “Mock Pavilion is in part inspired by a palace I saw there,” Kantor says. “Seeing the kiosks and tiles there made me think about a sultan and the physical places he would go to explore. Sala Diaz is my vessel to create something similar.”

Kantor says she's “repurposed” Sala Diaz through a lens of both cultural transition and interpretation. As guests walk through Mock Pavilion, they will travel through different time periods in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. “I’ll be featuring a fourteenth-century pattern that was one of the first international patterns to have traveled throughout the world,” Kantor says, adding that she give the pattern her own interpretation.

The interior of Sala Diaz is reminiscent of a bourgeois home, which inspired led Kantor to create one of her favorite aspects of Mock Pavilion. “Once you walk through the garden plaza and the hallway and you get to the bathroom, you’ll see that we’ve got all of these coins on the walls and we’ve filled the bathtub with coins to signify wealth,” she says.

Since Black Cube's introduction last year, its artist fellows have utilized the storage container to support either the pop-up exhibition or a related shop — but in another first, Kantor will instead incorporate the cube in shipping her ceramics. Instead of selling commodities, she says, “We’re going to be doing more swatches and paper cutouts of the pots we’ll be featuring. We’ll just have a little more historical information.”

Mock Pavilion is part of Contemporary Art Month San Antonio, which runs through March 31. An opening reception will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, at Sala Diaz, 517 Stieren Street in San Antonio. For more information about Mock Pavilion or Black Cube, visit  
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Lauren Archuletta is a contributor for Westword's arts section, covering Denver's health and wellness scene. Follow her work for tips on cheap workouts and which yoga classes include mimosas and beer.