IN BERKELEY, CALIF., Elena Gross is joining the Berkeley Art Center (BAC) as co-director. Gross brings eight years of experience working in the Bay Area arts community and a background that spans museums, culturally specific institutions, commercial galleries, independent nonprofits, and arts publications.

Gross is currently director of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.

Berkeley Art Center describes itself as a “diverse intergenerational community” and “hub for artistic exploration and community building that champions work by Bay Area artists and curators.”

The nonprofit art space adopted a co-director model in 2021 with the express intention of creating leadership opportunities for rising arts professionals. “In a small organization such as ours, all duties are shared and so we figured that decision-making responsibility should be shared as well,” departing co-director Daniel Nevers said in a statement. He started as director of BAC in 2018.

“We are so thrilled to have Elena join Berkeley Art Center at such a pivotal time as we deepen our collaboration with artists and curators to create a dynamic, community-centered place for local contemporary art,” BAC Board President Kerri Hurtado said in a statement. “We have seen during the pandemic how important our space has been as both a sanctuary and a hub for connection, and we are excited by the ideas and values that Elena will bring to our efforts to build community.”

An independent writer and cultural critic, Gross joined MoAD in 2019 as an exhibitions associate and was promoted to director of exhibitions and curatorial affairs last year. During her tenure, she curated solo shows with local Bay Area artists, including “Sam Vernon: Impasse of Desires” and “Cynthia Aurora Brannvall: The Threads That Bind,” part of the museum’s emerging artists initiative. Gross also co-curated “David Huffman: Terra Incognita” All three exhibitions are currently on view at MoAD, where Gross has also participated in public programs and artist talks.

Previously, Gross worked for about three years as a gallery associate at Fraenkel Gallery, a commercial gallery in San Francisco that specializes in photography.

At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Gross received a bachelor of arts degree in art history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies (2008-12). She went on to earn a master’s degree in visual and critical studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2014-16).

“I have seen firsthand the dynamism and rigor of the Bay Area arts ecosystem and have committed myself to keep these communities alive and thriving.” — Elena Gross

Embarking on the next chapter of her career, BAC provides Gross with an opportunity to hone her leadership skills and further her work with local artists.

“Community art spaces are a vital, and yet a rapidly disappearing, cultural asset. Over the past several years, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with so many emerging and mid-career artists in the Bay Area, working in diverse disciplines and with varying practices and expertise.” Gross in a statement. “I have seen firsthand the dynamism and rigor of the Bay Area arts ecosystem and have committed myself to keep these communities alive and thriving.”

Working in collaboration with co-director Kimberley Acebo Arteche, Gross is charged with developing and driving BAC’s strategic vision and reimagining how the art center can best serve the local community. She officially starts June 21.

“For equity to advance within historically white arts organizations, the demographics of decision-making leaders need to reflect the demographics of the communities they wish to serve,” Arteche said in a statement. “I am so excited to be part of an organization that has moved beyond words into meaningful action to support emerging leaders of color, and I cannot wait to work with Elena to bring our next phase to life.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Elena Gross. | Courtesy BAC


FIND MORE about Elena Gross on her website


Elena Gross is co-editor with of the recently published book “OutWrite: The Speeches that Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture.”


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