Kimball announces new executive director
July 18, 2008
Bruce Larrabee has several day jobs.
Larrabee, the Kimball Art Center’s new executive director, has spent 25 years in Park City as a potter, art teacher, small-business owner and advocate for local artists.
He is the treasurer and a past president of the Park City Professional Artist Association, the owner of Art Works Gallery on Main Street, a member of the Historic Main Street Business Alliance and, now, the head of the Kimball.
"I wear many hats," he laughed. "If I’m in business, I want to know the merchants. If I’m an artist, I want to know other artists."
Larrabee has served on the Kimball’s board since 2003 and took on the role of interim executive director in March. His versatility was one of his biggest selling points, Laurie Eastwood, chairman of the board, said "We got quite a few interesting applicants, she explained. "Bruce was definitely the most obvious choice because of his experience with the Kimball. He’s a familiar face in Park City and we wanted someone who was known in the community and respected."
What impressed Eastwood most during the selection process, she said, was not just Larrabee’s experience, but also his passion. "It was just so clear," she said. "He’s very much a person who is interested in collaborating, partnering. I think he recognizes there are all sorts of communities and so many opportunities to collaborate."
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Eastwood said the Kimball wants to continue its open-door policy with local artists.
The Kimball has, at times, butted heads with some of the 23 art galleries in the Park City Gallery Association.
Hiring Larrabee, Eastwood said, adds to the harmony and cohesiveness of Park City’s artists and sellers. "I feel already there’s been a huge shift between the Kimball and the galleries," she said. "I, as a board member, am really excited about the future of the Kimball."
Larrabee started teaching pottery classes at the Kimball in 1985 after getting his bachelor’s degree in ceramics and sculpture from the University of Utah. "I was looking to make a living as an artist. The Kimball found me."
1985, Larrabee had already made a name for himself in the art community. He started Artworks Fine Contemporary Crafts in 1983 as a cooperative gallery featuring the work of locals. He moved to Summit County six years later, in 1991. "The Kimball in my mind has always supported local artists. Their willingness to work with local artist has been valuable."
Larrabee has volunteered with the Kimball for more than 20 years stuff envelopes and helping with the gallery stroll, exhibitions and events. More recently, he decided to take on administrative responsibilities and has served on the board of directors for the past five years. "That gave me a greater insight into finding out what the community needs," he said.
One of Larrabee’s primary goals is to connect the Kimball with other artist associations and guilds. "We need to make sure we’re partnering with artists, not competing with them," he said.
Larrabee plans to reach out to the community with educational classes and world-class exhibitions, he said.
Larrabee’s tenure begins at an important time for the Kimball. Board members met with the Park City Planning Commission recently to discuss rezoning issues that would potentially allow the Kimball to expand its existing space.
The Kimball is listed on the Park City and National Historic Registries.
Larrabee emphasized that the Kimball has no solids plans and construction would be three to five years away.
"There might have been some neglect with our existing structure," he said, adding that board members are working on assessing the needs of the art center. "We just want to make sure that any plans would fit in with the area down here," he said.
Eastwood said along with education, events and exhibitions, the Kimball is considering holding focus groups to determine what kinds of services locals want from the nonprofit center.
The search committee was made up of four board members, two staff members and one gallery owner, Julie Nester of Julie Nester Gallery.