Art Museum at University of Kentucky names its new chief

rcopley@herald-leader.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Stuart Horodner has held top posts at several institutions across the country.

PHOTO PROVIDED

Stuart Horodner, artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, has been named the new director of The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.

Horodner succeeds Kathy Walsh-Piper, who announced her retirement from the post last year.

Michael Tick, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts, co-chaired the search committee with Mary John O'Hair, dean of the university's College of Education and selected Horodner for the post.

"Having consulted with the search committee, the staff at the college, stakeholders and many, many references around the country, I concluded over the weekend he was the right person at the right time for the right museum," Tick said. "There's no question that he's personable. I sensed there was a nice connection and a good fit for the staff at the museum and the staff at the college."

Horodner has held leading posts at institutions around the United States, including visual arts curator at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon, director of the Bucknell University Art Gallery in Lewisburg, Pa., and co-owner of the Horodner Romley Gallery in New York.

"The museum director position at the University of Kentucky is an exciting opportunity for me to oversee exhibition strategies and collection-building, and work with various staff and stakeholders to deliver ambitious educational programs and collaborative endeavors," Horodner said in a statement from UK. "I'm excited about the museum's role on the campus, in the Lexington community and beyond."

Interim director Amy Nelson Young, who is director of grants and community assets for the museum, said, "He's going to be able to work with a wide variety of our constituents, from our professors ... and students on campus; to our museum members, who are a wide variety of people; to the arts community in general in Lexington.

"What's exciting for the staff is having a new vision and energy for The Art Museum. Once Stuart gets here and gets his feet on the ground, that will come right along."

Horodner is set to start July 9.

"The mission and vision of the museum will be formed by Stuart and his staff," Tick said. "All I can do is help them achieve their goals."

Horodner was one of three finalists the committee brought to campus in January and February for interviews, tours and community forums. The other candidates were Timothy Close, whose last post was director and CEO of the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., and Julien Robson of Philadelphia, who curated contemporary art at Louisville's Speed Art Museum from 2000 to 2008.

Announcing her retirement last spring, Walsh-Piper had some terse words for UK administrators and said the museum, which is housed in a back corner of the Singletary Center for the Arts, needs a new location.

"This museum needs to be a priority for someone," Walsh-Piper said. "The city has no art museum except us. It needs to be part of the heart of the city, and for that to happen, the city and community need to support it more."

During forums, each candidate was asked about the location and possibility of moving; none said relocation would be an immediate priority.

According to notes from museum staff about Horodner's forum, he emphasized building university and community relationships and championing regional artists.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: Copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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