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I am very excited to announce our upcoming program Pacesetters in American Art and Culture on March 25. This program was inspired by the special exhibition American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art on display through May 30.

To fully understand the inspiration for this program, we must look to A. Everett “Chick” Austin Jr. He was a dynamic man who became director of the Wadsworth Atheneum (from which this exhibition hails) in 1927 at the young age of 26. From there he threw lavish parties, helped introduce America to modern art, and energized all who came in contact with him–a true pacesetter in American art. His legacy for collecting new and cutting-edge work continues at the Wadsworth. Last week we held a book club to learn more about Chick Austin (and four others)with the book Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who opened America to a New Art, 1928–1943.

We thought it would be great to showcase individuals who we feel are pacesetters today in the arts and humanities and bring them together to speak about what drives their creativity and how they continue to make innovative and energetic contributions to the arts and humanities as their careers progress.

Leading up to the program on March 25, I will offer a brief introduction to each panelist and explain why we chose them. Our panelists are Kimberly Davenport, Tyler Green, and Sedrick Huckaby.

I first came across Kimberly Davenport about four years ago while visiting a friend in Houston. I heard of the innovative exhibitions at the Rice Gallery (where she is Director) and learned that it is strictly a site specific installation gallery where artists come and create, celebrate, and then tear it all down. This is not the norm for university galleries! Many university galleries house local and some nationally-known artists, a faculty exhibition, senior exhibitions, and then start the rotation over again the next school year. It seems to be the mold that works, and quite well in many places. But, when Davenport became Director of Rice Gallery, she broke the mold. She believed in her dream for Rice Gallery, and the powers that be believed in her. Since starting in 1994, she not only developed the vision and artistic direction for Rice Gallery, but also serves as its curator.

As we began brainstorming potential pacesetters for this upcoming program, Davenport immediately came to mind. Some internet searching revealed that she has had a very interesting career path prior to starting at Rice Gallery. She has also worked as a muralist in Baltimore, was curator of contemporary art at the Wadsworth Atheneum (where our current exhibition is from), and earned a graduate degree in divinity from Yale University. While at Yale, she worked as a graduate assistant for the Department of European and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery and was hired on as staff after graduation.

Today, in addition to her duties at Rice Gallery, Davenport is a National Peer of the Design Excellence Program of the United States General Services Administration, and in 2007 served as a member of the GSA’s national Design Awards jury. She is a member of the University of Houston Public Art Committee, as well as the Houston Museum District Association, where she serves as vice president of the board. She holds degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Yale University.

Come and hear more about Kimberly Davenport during our free public program Pacesetters in American Art and Culture and learn about what gets her motivated, how she handles obstacles, and how she continues to grow and change with the arts.

Stay tuned to learn more about our other two panelists!

Admission is free, but because seating is limited, reservations are required. Call 817.989.5030 or e-mail education@cartermuseum.org to register.

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Kimberly Davenport and El Anatsui in front of his site-specific installation Gli, 2010, Photo: Nash Baker

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