DAC exhibits director resigns, Durango Herald, April 25, 2008

Susan Andersen resigned as the exhibits director of Durango Arts Center this month. Andersen, who came to Durango from Portland, Ore., New York and Orlando, Fla., took the job as exhibits director in January 2005. She brought her business savvy and aesthetic sensibility to the 30- hour-a-week job.

“When I came to the art center, art sales were only $4,000 a year. Last year, we sold nearly $60,000 worth of art,” Andersen said Thursday from her new home in Farmington, where she moved after her wedding April 3.

Andersen plans to focus on home makeovers and interiors and has maintained her membership in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). She has formed a company called Marsan Studio and will continue to market her fine art and interiors. She is currently working with a Web designer to launch MarsanStudio.com.

DAC Interim Executive Director Karen Thompson said that the arts center has no plans to replace Andersen at this time. Newly hired Executive Director McCarson Jones will begin her job in May, and the exhibits committee will manage the current schedule of exhibitions at the art center.

Jones is a social worker and photographer whose college degrees include a bachelor’s in social work from Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas, and a master’s in organizational conflict resolution from California State University, Carson, Calif.

“We are looking at inviting artists and others to curate or put together shows and exhibits,” Thompson said in her office at the DAC Wednesday. She said she had mentioned the idea to a few local artists who are excited about the possibility. “They lit up,” she said. “I’ve asked them to submit proposals.”

Thompson said she hoped new director Jones would invite member and non-member artists to a brainstorming session and ask them what would get them excited again about the art center, what would get them involved. What kind of exhibits do they want to see, and what kind of exposure do they want to have.

“I realize the art center has ostracized many of the local artists,” Thompson admitted. She hopes that Jones will be able to help bring a new energy and perspective to the DAC.

Not rehiring a qualified exhibits director or curator for the arts center might seem the center’s death knell to many artists. The organization shows evidence of moving toward become a performing arts center with its purchase of the Diamond Belle Melodrama and having lost sight of its roots.

The DAC began in 1966 as the Durango Fine Arts Center, whose purpose and objective was “to promote and encourage the fine arts and cultural activities,” according to the articles of incorporation available from the Colorado Secretary of State.

Or, perhaps the lack of direction and leadership will allow something unique to flourish. We’ll have to wait and see.

artsjournalist@mac.comLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.

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