As the underfunded, nonprofit gateway to contemporary art in Las Vegas, the Contemporary Arts Center has had a lot of pressure on its shoulders, resulting in some good years and some very bad years. This past year has definitely been one of its best.
Though its director, Beate Kirmse, stepped down in May to move to Los Angeles, the group has successfully nurtured new partnerships, brought in national artists for CAC’s Off the Strip performance and video event and brought back its Hot Hot Haute fashion show and fundraiser. Additionally, artist David Sanchez Burr became board president and spent his time updating databases and reviving memberships. Just recently, the group received a 2010 Governor’s Arts Award for Leadership in the Arts.
To keep the momentum going, the group announced last week that it has chosen Wendy Kveck as its new director. It couldn’t have been an easy choice, given the names and talent floating around, but placing Kveck as director sends out a strong message: CAC won’t derail anytime soon. Kveck, a painter and installation specialist who received her MFA in 2007 from UNLV, has exhibited regularly in Las Vegas. She was featured as guest artist at the 2007 Americans for the Arts national convention, and she’s been curating shows at Rosemary’s Restaurant’s West Wing Gallery. Kveck has also played a heavy marketing role for Off the Strip and other programs.
Though the job of director will be more administrative and less curatorial, Sanchez Burr says Kveck’s curatorial presence will be felt. Her salary will be funded through federal stimulus funds, and the CAC hopes to have funds raised to continue her tenure when the grant runs out in spring. Kveck, who became a CAC member in 2003, says she’ll focus mostly on organizational structure, strong partnerships, diversified programming and new sponsors. Current exhibit Your Future Starts Here celebrates the group’s 20th anniversary by featuring founding and longtime members. “We’ve made huge progress,” Sanchez Burr says. “It’s made people come around and want to be part of this again.”