He's been one of the fixtures of the Akron Art Scene...now Mitchell Kahan is setting his sights elsewhere.
Kahan is stepping down effective with the start of 2013 after 26 years leading the Art Museum, including overseeing the significant expansion and construction of the new Museum. He'll continue to be part of the museum landscape as Director Emeritus and says he'll continue to live in Akron.
- - -
(Akron Art Museum - news release) Leadership changes are on the horizon for the Akron Art Museum.
After 26 years as director, with one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country, Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan announced to the Akron Art Museum’s Board of Trustees that he will leave January 2, 2013 and assume the title of Director Emeritus. In addition, Janice Driesbach will join the staff on August 20, after a year-long national search, as the museum’s new Chief Curator.
“Mitchell has brought an impressive record of achievement to the museum’s 90-year history. The Board is immensely grateful for his dedication, foresight, creativity and passion,” praised Fred Bidwell, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “His commitment to the cultural arts and the community will have a lasting impact in Akron and Northeast Ohio.”
Under Kahan’s direction, the Akron Art Museum enjoyed significant institutional growth: from a 25,000 square foot facility to 83,000 square feet; from an endowment of just over $2 million to well over $20 million following three endowment campaigns; from a collection of 2,000 objects to over 5,000; from a staff of 22 to over 50; and a capital campaign that raised $44.8 million surpassing the final goal of $42 million. Most significantly for future generations, Kahan raised almost $5 million in permanent endowment funds for purchases of art; there were no funds for art purchases when he arrived in1986.
“The biggest and perhaps most rewarding challenge of my career was working with one of the world’s leading architects, Wolf Prix, on the museum expansion,” said Kahan, who was able to utilize his early training in architectural history and his great love of contemporary design. The John S. and James L. Knight Building received worldwide acclaim when it opened in 2007. It earned a 2008 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Lubetkin Prize.
Because of his significant contributions and accomplishments, he has received many prestigious awards including those from the Ohio Museums Association, Cleveland Arts Prize and Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel Center for Nonprofit Management.
Kahan plans to continue living in the Akron area with his partner Christopher Hixson and will focus on foundation management, arts journalism and making art.
Driesbach, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, has worked as both a curator and museum director. After an undergraduate degree in art history and political science from Allegheny College, she received her M.A. in art history from University of Iowa, where she studied with art historian Frank Seiberling (son of Goodyear founder F.A. Seiberling). She later worked at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento as Curator of Art and held two museum directorships, at the University of Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum of Art and The Dayton Art Institute.
“It is an honor to join the Akron Art Museum as chief curator. I am eager to work with the museum's strong and dynamic collection and to undertake new collaborations,” Driesbach said. “I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, engaging with art and artists, and becoming part of the Akron community.”
Her specialty is American art, and she has spearheaded numerous collaborations among cultural institutions on a variety of topics. Driesbach helped to develop the collection of American contemporary sculpture at University of Nebraska and in Sacramento expanded institutional holdings of regional art, a dual approach that mirrors Akron’s commitment to both regional art and developments elsewhere. She is delighted to return to her first love, curatorial work. Her husband John is a printmaker and is a retired professor of art from California State University-Sacramento, where he earlier served as chair of the art department. Their two daughters live in Chicago and Fort Collins.
"Jan’s experience in museum management will be an immense asset as we move forward in our executive search for Mitchell’s successor,” said Bidwell. “In addition, there is strong continuity on the board, which has complete confidence in the museum’s present leadership staff.” A national search committee will be comprised of museum past presidents. “We are anticipating significant interest in the position due to the museum’s national reputation,” Bidwell added.
The Akron Art museum will be parting ways with one of its most valuable works of art, a photograph called Untitled #96.
This work of art by Cindy Sherman could auction for nearly $4 million and the sale has been published in newspapers all over the world.
So why sell the picture? The Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum, Dr. Mitchell Kahan says the museum currently owns two of Cindy Sherman's photographs that are very similar, so it would be okay to sell one of them. The profits from the sale will be put towards purchasing more art for their collection.
The Akron Art Museum acquired Sherman's photo in 1981, the year of its creation and has since then made a point to stay involved in the artist's work.
Christie's an international auction service specializing in the sale of art made in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries will be assisting the Akron Art Museum in selling Sherman's work.
Glass lovers will see a special treat at the Akron Art Museum with a special members-only preview scheduled for the annual Members Meeting on September 27th, followed by public display of an artist known for taking glass and turning it into art.
Akron Art Museum - news release
The Akron Art Museum will open the world’s largest public collection of glass by the celebrated artist Paul Stankard, who is known internationally for his innovative rethinking of the traditional glass paperweight. The collection is a gift of Mike and Annie Belkin of Northeast Ohio.
Stankard is simultaneously a master glass artist and an astonishing realist sculptor. His renditions of plants and insects seem like nature, miniaturized and preserved inside crystal-clear glass globes and cubes. Closer inspection will often reveal mythical and metaphorical motifs nestled amid the natural elements. Turning over one of the glass spheres, and intermingled with the roots of the plants, one can find masks, tiny words or “root people” that to Stankard represent the earth spirit.
With attention to the specifics of each blossom, leaf, insect or berry, his flameworked glass objects possess strong illusionist appeal. "I want to give the glass organic credibility. I use detail to emphasize the delicate," Stankard said. "I want people to go beyond the wizardry of whether it is real or glass. It is about respect for living things."
Over a 50-year career in glass, Stankard’s work has been widely exhibited and collected. His glass sculptures are in numerous public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum Mitchell Kahan exulted, “this gift is an amazing fulfillment of the museum’s long interest in the studio glass movement through many temporary exhibitions. We now have a permanent commemoration of this key development in American art.” He added, “This breathtaking collection is also a testament to the close relationship of artist and patron, who have worked hand in hand for years.”
About the Artist
Since his early childhood in North Attleboro, Mass., Stankard (b. 1943) has always enjoyed strolling through the woods. He graduated from Salem Vocational Technical Institute (now Salem Community College) where he received a diploma in scientific glassblowing, which includes making beakers and test tubes. While fabricating glass equipment for use in the chemical industry, he became fascinated by the tradition of South Jersey glassmaking and its "crown jewel," the paperweight.
In 1969 he began making his first paperweights, which were seen by Reese Palley, a gallery owner in Atlantic City. Recognizing Stankard's extraordinary craftsmanship, Palley gave the artist his first show, a sellout, and urged him to devote himself full time to his art. In 1972, with the encouragement of his wife, Patricia, Stankard decided to leave the field of industry to pursue artistic glass working full-time.
Since then he has enjoyed continued artistic success, resulting from a deep commitment to technical excellence, a dynamic aesthetic sense of composition, a strong conceptual focus and an entrepreneurial spirit.
A solo exhibition of Stankard’s work at the Akron Art Museum opened in 2002. He has had 35 public exhibitions since 1996, including Glass! Glorious Glass!, Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, 1999 and Paul Stankard: A Floating World, 40 Years of an American Master in Glass, a major Museum of Arts and Design in New York City retrospective that eventually toured the country in 2004. Publications about Stankard include “Paul J. Stankard: Homage to Nature” by Ulysses Grant Dietz and “No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass” by Paul J. Stankard.
Those attending the Akron Art Museum’s Members Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 will be the first to view this remarkable addition to the museum’s holdings. Museum doors open at 5 pm. Evening events include the unveiling of the new collection, a talk by the artist followed by a reception for the donors and the artist and book signing by Stankard.
Guests must join the museum to attend the unveiling and reception. The collection opens to the public Wednesday, September 28. Visitors interested in the art of glass are encouraged to combine a visit to Akron to view the Belkin Collection of Paul Stankard Glass with a visit to Toledo to see the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, with its collection spanning the entire history of glass.
Photo Credit: Paul Stankard, 2001, glass, 2 3/8 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in., Collection of Akron Art Museum, Gift of Annie and Mike Belkin 2010.282.58, Photo by Joseph Levack
Photo Credit: Photo of Paul Stankard by James Amos
Copyright © 2013 AkronNewsNow & Rubber City Radio Group |All Rights Reserved | 1795 West Market Street | Akron, OH 44313 | 330.869.9800