My career in arts management began in 1982 at a small photo gallery in San Francisco.
I joined the Eye Photography Gallery - a heady collective of social documentary and rock music photographers - soon after moving to San Francisco from Oregon. I was looking for a gallery like Blue Sky in Portland, which had become a model organization for me to learn and socialize in, and Eye fit the bill. At night I waited tables at the Holiday Inn, and I soon found myself sitting the Eye in the afternoon, sweeping out debris from the street and answering the phone. Gradually, I became the most consistent public face of the gallery. I began to write grants and in time raised enough seed money to be paid as part-time Administrative Director. Over the next five years the gallery transitioned from a collective to a registered non-profit and moved to a more central location on Mission Street between 6th and 7th. I was successful in helping to establish the gallery in its new location, but not wanting to commit to a full-time position I left Eye in 1988 to travel in Europe and take photographs.
Soon after I returned, I joined San Francisco Camerawork as Assistant Director to Marnie Gillett (pictured right). At the time (1989) Camerawork was the most prominent non-profit photo organization in San Francisco, and it represented a big step up for me. Marnie became a valued mentor and close friend, while the creative force of the Bay Area photo community became my colleagues. I was production and copy editor for the quarterly Camerawork Journal, and I curated and/or organized many exhibitions that are described in the "Curatorial" section. Thanks to Marnie, my time at Camerawork was an incredibly productive learning experience. Most memorable were two "Feminism, Activism, and Art" conferences we organized with Laura Brun at The Lab, which took place at the height of the culture wars of the early 1990s. My immersion in identity and feminist politics introduced me to some of the world's foremost photographers and writers, among them Nan Goldin, Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis, Joel Peter Witkin, David Levi Strauss, Rebecca Solnit, Larry Sultan, and numerous others.
I left Camerawork in December 2004 to work full-time on Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, a 50-year commemoration project that resurrected the archive of a Japanese army photographer sent to Nagasaki the day of the atomic attack on that city, August 9, 1945. I was invited to join the project as exhibition consultant and contributing editor by Christopher Beaver, a film producer who had made an Emmy Award-winning anti-nuclear film called Dark Circle.
My work on Nagasaki Journey lasted until the fall of 1995, at which point I returned to gallery management as director of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. You can find a Powerpoint presentation I made that outlines the SFACG's history and the programming accomplished under my tenure. Click here to see it - if you don't want to, read on!
As SFACG's director and head curator from 1995-2005 I oversaw four municipal exhibition sites in the Civic Center – a contemporary gallery in the Veterans Building, community galleries in City Hall, a storefront space for video and sculpture (the disused former SFAC Gallery), and an open lot for environmental installations. Philosophically, I believed we should represent the broadest possible interpretation of San Francisco's "community"; consequently we represented skateboarders, dozens of ethnic communities, LGBTQ patrons and gay marriage when it was first introduced, the blind, Burning Man artists, and hundreds of individuals representing all genres of art making.
SFACG presented me with a fantastic opportunity to sample San Francisco's amazingly diverse creative and academic communities. It was a difficult decision to make, but after 25 years in the city, I left to study for an MBA program at the University of Denver. Follow that thread on the "Denver" page.