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Bellevue Art Museum Names Michael W. Monroe as Executive Director and Chief Curator

 

The Bellevue Art Museum Board of Trustees have selected Michael W. Monroe as the Museum's new Executive Director/Chief Curator. Monroe's national standing as an advocate for and unparalleled knowledge of American craft brings a high level of expertise to Bellevue Art Museum and its new mission focusing on craft and design. He will assume his new duties as of July 20, 2004.

Rick Collette, Bellevue Art Museum Board President states, "The stage has been set through a valid process involving community input. We now have a compelling mission that returns us to our roots, a business model that provides structure and sustainability, a Board that represents our audience and artistic partners and an exhibition schedule that demonstrates a commitment to our mission of craft and design. Michael Monroe is the perfect fit for this vision. He brings experience, professionalism, vast connections to the world of craft and credibility. Michael's leadership at the Renwick Gallery and the American Craft Council is world renown. We are impressed with the extensive work he has done with major national and international institutions to raise awareness of craft and to celebrate its place in the arts." (right: Michael W. Monroe. Photo courtesy of Bellevue Art Museum)

Kris Tucker, Executive Director, Washington State Arts Commission says: "Michael Monroe is a highly respected leader who brings remarkable credentials and enthusiasm to this position. With his leadership -- and the strong support of the community -- Bellevue Art Museum is well positioned for the future. The state and region will benefit from the renewal of the Bellevue Art Museum... I commend BAM for strategic thinking, vision, determination and dedication to your organization and your community."

A native of Racine, Wisconsin Michael Monroe graduated with an M.F.A. degree in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He holds a B.S. degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and did additional study at the School of the Art Institute and the American Academy of Art, both of Chicago.

Monroe joined the staff of the Renwick, the Smithsonian's museum of contemporary American craft and design, as associate curator in 1974 and served as curator-in-charge of that institution from 1986 until 1995. In that capacity he oversaw all planning and administration of the museum's exhibitions, programs, education and operations. During his tenure, he was invited to organize a collection of American craft by President William Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton to commemorate the Year of American Craft (1993). Monroe was president of the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York City where he organized exhibitions of leading American studio furniture artists. His next assignment was to serve as the executive director of the American Craft Council, a 30,000 member national organization whose mission is to promote an understanding and appreciation of American craft. He held that position until 1998. Monroe is an independent curator, a noted lecturer, author and juror for national and international competitions, all focusing on themes and issues in contemporary American craft.

Michael Monroe's career is marked by significant exhibitions, exemplary management skills and scholarship, all leading to his recognition as a national figure in the world of craft. In 1995 he was inducted into the American Craft Council's College of Fellows as an Honorary Fellow. In 1996 he received the NICHE Lifetime Achievement Award for Craft and in 2000 he was recognized by the Collectors of Wood Art with their Lifetime Achievement Award. He has authored numerous books on a wide range of craft.

"Craft is a vital part of our heritage and stands as testimony to the undying value of works of hand, heart and mind," says Monroe. "Bellevue Art Museum has the unique opportunity to become a regional center of national significance for craft. I am very pleased to have been chosen to lead this institution at this juncture in its history. When the doors open this fall, we will begin an important and vital community venture. I look forward to this exciting challenge of making this museum's mission a reality," continued Monroe.

Jonathan Fairbanks, Curator Emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston states, "I am thrilled to hear that Michael Monroe is taking on the job to direct Bellevue Art Museum in its new mission of becoming a craft and design museum in the Northwest. You could not find a better person for this job. Michael is internationally known for his many contributions in the field of craft. He is admired by everybody in the craft community. I think this looks toward great success for Bellevue Art Museum."

Over the last nine months, the Board and staff have engaged the community in dialog regarding mission and vision, partnerships and program. Two unique partnerships have resulted from the process. Bellevue Art Museum and The Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington have created a partnership that includes a permanent gallery in the Museum honoring this important school and the glass movement. This partnership will provide both institutions with access to those who love the medium of glass. A collaboration has also been formed with Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Objects from The Burke's collections will bring important context to Bellevue Art Museum's exhibitions.

The Museum is scheduled for an October 28, 2004 opening with the following set of exhibitions showcasing the craft and design mission:

 

The Artful Teapot
 
This exhibition will feature 250 objects from the collection of Sonny and Gloria Kamm showcasing the teapot form produced by artists from around the world throughout the 20th century in a wide variety of media. Augmenting and enriching this show are many pieces relating to tea ceremonies and traditions curated from The Burke's collection and local collectors.
 
 
Looking Forward, Glancing Back
 
This 115-object exhibit showcases the finest art produced over the past 50 years by members of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen Association. Curated by Lloyd Herman, Director-Emeritus of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery.
 
 
Silver in Service
 
Silver in Service is a 100-object exhibit of contemporary metal servers from the private collection of Benton Seymour Rabinovitch, a regional patron who has commissioned these precious metal works of art from world famous artists in North America and the United Kingdom.
 
 
David Chatt
 
David Chatt is a nationally renowned and collected Northwest bead artist whose fascinating work ranges from jewelry to small tableaus to figurative vases with flowers.
 
 
Pilchuck Glass School Gallery
 
The gallery will feature Pilchuck artists who highlight the central role Pilchuck has played in the worldwide studio glass movement.

 

The Steven Holl designed building that was intended to showcase contemporary art and house an art school will be modified to meet the needs of the new mission focusing on craft and design. Classrooms will make way for new gallery spaces and the first floor will be redesigned to create a welcoming gathering space. An expanded Museum Store will focus on the works of local and national artisans working in a variety of media. Café 510 will be slightly reconfigured to create an invitation to visitors to linger in comfortable surroundings.

The Museum's genesis ­ the Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair ­ is its largest program and fundraiser. The 58th annual Fair, will be held July 23 - 25, 2004 in its usual location along Bellevue Square's West Drive and in the Square's ground level parking structure. Three-hundred-twenty-four artists are set to offer high quality art for sale in addition to entertainment, food concessions and artist's demonstrations. Children and families will enjoy Kidsfair located inside Bellevue Art Museum. There free hands-on art activities will be accompanied by exciting entertainment and children's authors reading from their books.

 

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Copyright 2003, 2004 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.