MUSEUM OPERATIONS CONTINUE TO CHURN as institutions navigate months of challenges resulting from COVID-19. Museums are facing budget constraints in the wake of the virus. At the same time, several are dealing with accusations of racism from staff and former staff. Many remain temporarily closed and others are joining a wave of re-openings. Three museums announced new high-level appointments this week, all of them women.

 


CAMH Deputy Director Janice Bond. | Photo by Collete Presley

 

The CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM HOUSTON (CAMH) hired Janice Bond as deputy director. The museum said she is coming on board “during a period of growth and systemic change” amid a new strategic direction. Bond’s leadership position encompasses oversight of all museum operations across departments, including internal collaborations and external partnerships, and the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Janice’s new role represents both a homecoming and pivotal moment for the Museum,” CAMH Executive Director Hesse McGraw said in a statement. “Janice brings a remarkable record to CAMH, grounded both in belief and trust in artists, and strategic operational acumen that will serve CAMH well. We look forward to the positive influence her thoughtful leadership and cultural insight will infuse into the Museum.”

Born and raised in Houston, Bond is an artist, curator, and gallerist who has worked internationally focusing on artist advocacy, community activism and engagement, and administrative leadership in the contemporary arts. She founded Bond Creative Advisors, a Chicago consulting practice providing leadership on projects and programming to artist collectives and institutions. She also served as director of arts and culture at Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), from 2013-15. She attended Columbia College Chicago and Houston Baptist University.

In the wake of COVID-19, CAMH remains temporarily closed. The museum’s recent exhibitions include “Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody,” the first solo museum show of Garrett Bradley, a New Orleans-based artist and filmmaker.

Bond’s appointment was announced July 8. She started June 23. “It is a true joy to join the leadership to evolve CAMH’s historic and renowned institutional legacy. For a museum to sustainably realize its vision, the endeavor must be rooted in the spirit of aligned conscience, service, and investment,” Bond said.

“As CAMH continues to travel this path, it is imperative that we recalibrate our internal and external operational models to purposefully foster equity and expanded vision. I look forward to CAMH addressing long-standing inequities through re-imagining how we listen, how we engage our communities, and how we aspire to greatness. Alongside the Houston community, artists, cultural workers, staff, and Board of Trustees, I am eager to co-create spaces that inform, inspire, and influence the experience of contemporary art in Houston and beyond.”

“I look forward to CAMH addressing long-standing inequities through re-imagining how we listen, how we engage our communities, and how we aspire to greatness.” — Janice Bond

IN LOS ANGELES, Leslie K. Johnson (right) joined the Skirball Cultural Center as executive vice president. Last year, the Jewish cultural center and museum presented “Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite.”

Johnson is overseeing the Skirball’s exhibitions, programs, and day-to-day operations, which included a $22 million budget and nearly 400 full-time and on-call staff. Most recently, Johnson was director of social strategy, innovation, and impact and chief diversity officer at Center Theatre Group, a large nonprofit regional theater located in Los Angeles.

“Leslie K. Johnson is an inspiring, collaborative leader who has already distinguished herself as a person of integrity, empathy, and passion for our work,” the Skirball’s new president and CEO Jessie Kornberg said in a statement. “I am grateful to have Leslie by my side—a seasoned arts administrator with a deep commitment to mission fulfillment and fiscal responsibility—as the Skirball looks ahead to a new chapter of community engagement in the pursuit of a more just society.”

Johnson’s three-decade career spans arts education, nonprofit management, and cultural leadership. She previously led school programming at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Known as The Music Center, the downtown institution includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. She has also served as board chair of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

Earlier in her career, Johnson preserved rare books at UCLA Library Special Collections, cataloged works on paper for the Grunwald Center for the Graphics Arts, and served as a preparator and registrar at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She majored in history at UCLA and earned an Executive MBA certification from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“I am honored to join the Skirball community, one that is guided by a core belief that arts and culture have the capacity to transform and uplift,” Leslie K. Johnson

“I am honored to join the Skirball community, one that is guided by a core belief that arts and culture have the capacity to transform and uplift,” Johnson said in a statement. “In this moment, when our world may seem increasingly disparate and irrevocably divided, the role cultural organizations can and should play as community centers—bringing people together through expression, engagement, and meaningful exchange—is more essential and critical than ever. That is the foundational ‘good deed’ that lives at the heart of the Skirball, and I look forward to playing my part to advance that vision.”

The Skirball announced Johnson’s appointment today. Her tenure began July 1. The museum remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

 


From left, Anais Disla and Erica Neal. | Photos courtesy Lucas Museum; and Amanda Hunt. | Photo by Ian Spanier

 

THE LUCAS MUSEUM OF NARRATIVE ART is under construction in Exposition Park in Los Angeles. Established by married co-founders George Lucas and Melody Hobson, the museum explores the art of visual storytelling. Sandra Jackson-Dumont joined the museum at the start of this year as director and CEO, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where she served as director of education.

Today, Jackson-Dumont announced a diverse slate of new hires at the forthcoming Lucas Museum, placing women in key leadership posts. Pilar Tompkins Rivas has been named chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections; Nenette Luarca-Shoaf is managing director of learning and engagement; Amanda Hunt joins as director of public programs and creative practice; Anais Disla is serving as director of special events; Larissa Gentile was named managing director of special projects; and Erica Neal has been appointed director of computing and infrastructure.

Heading up public programs, Hunt is joining the Lucas Museum from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), where she was director of education and senior curator of programs. Previously, she held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem and LAXART. She also served as co-curator of the 2019 Desert X Biennial in Palm Springs. Hunt holds an MA in curatorial practice from California College of the Arts.

The museum’s new director of special events, Disla previously served as acting head of special events at The Met. She holds a BA in philosophy from Stony Brook University. Neal is directing computing and infrastructure. She served for 13 years at CalOptima, in Orange, Calif., most recently as senior manager of IS Infrastructure. Neal earned an MBA in technology management from the University of Phoenix and has a BA in law and society from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“As we strive to become a vital source of education, inspiration, and dialogue for our close neighbors around Exposition Park, all the communities of Los Angeles, and people around the world, we could not be more thrilled with the team we have been able to recruit.”
— Lucas Museum CEO Sandra Jackson-Dumont

“Since I started in January, we have been building the extraordinary physical structure of the Lucas Museum. We have also been building the leadership structure that will shape the programs, policies, and practices of this unprecedented institution,” said Jackson-Dumont in a statement.

“As we strive to become a vital source of education, inspiration, and dialogue for our close neighbors around Exposition Park, all the communities of Los Angeles, and people around the world, we could not be more thrilled with the team we have been able to recruit.… Their varied points-of-view, individual expertise, and combined decades of experience will help us realize our efforts to expand the role of art and museums for society through visual storytelling.” CT

 

IMAGE: Above right, Leslie K. Johnson. | Photo by Ramona Trent

 

BOOKSHELF
With contributions by Tanisha C. Ford and Deborah Willis, “Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful” documents the exhibition presented at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Amanda Hunt is among the contributors to the exhibition catalog “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach.”

 

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