Then came Sonja Roesch, a German gallery owner who was transplanted to Houston with her family in 1996 and has since become the local art scene's consultant on and connection to all things German, conceptual and minimalist. Inspired by Parisian gallery owner Denise René, who paved the way for the success of German constructivist and reductive forms in France in the late 1940s, Roesch takes her role as art ambassador seriously. In fact, the German consulate has even invited her to curate a show for Texas A&M's December "German Week."
But the transition to Houston hasn't been easy for Roesch. "I didn't understand Texas slang," she says. "I was afraid of answering the phone because I didn't understand what people were saying." Most Houstonians have some trouble understanding Roesch as well. "It's frustrating," she says. "The only names people seem to know are Kiefer, Richter, Baselitz. There are so many others."
But by far, Roesch's biggest challenge has been the lack of a local gallery of her own. Her Keith Krumwiede-designed Houston space won't be completed until next summer, so Gallery Sonja Roesch now fills the two large front rooms of the art lover's stately red-brick Bellaire home. Mixed in with traditional living room furniture, her ever-changing German art collection features such works as Hans Peter Reuter's masterful three-dimensional cobalt-blue cube paintings and Frankfurt-based painter and publisher Miki Bunge's large pop pieces based on isolated fragments of Albrecht D¨rer woodcuts. Her house is perhaps the only place in town where you can admire the monolithic steel and dirt sculptures of European rising star Madeleine Dietz. It's definitely the only place where you can admire them from the comfort of a sofa.
Gallery Sonja Roesch is open by appointment. Call (713)663-7612 or check out www.gallerysonjaroesch.com.