Kimball Art Center announces new executive director
October 17, 2008
The Kimball Art Center’s plan to expand office and gallery space and develop its property just off Main Street may be on ice, but that doesn’t mean the nonprofit education outreach center will go without a face-lift.
In fact, it has a new head.
The Kimball’s board of trustees has named Robin Rankin as the organization’s new executive director Oct. 7 and she took over the post Monday. Rankin replaces Bruce Larrabee, who decided to resign from his post after the Arts Festival in August.
He served as the Kimball’s director for three months and, prior to the appointment, as the interim director.
Rankin is the organization’s third executive director since Pam Crowe-Weisberg left the Kimball in the spring. She brings a record of experience, outreach and community organizing to the post.
The higher-than-usual turnover is nothing to worry about, Larrabee said, and he has been pleased with the staff he leaves behind.
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"With any business you’re going to have people come and go," Larrabee explained. "I wasn’t going to be able to give the art center 110 percent. It was at that point we decided to look for someone who could give 110 percent." He added that he planned to continue volunteering for the Kimball. "I don’t plan on leaving the Kimball," he said. "I just won’t get paid from them anymore."
One of the reasons for selecting Rankin, he said, was that she was committed to leading the Kimball for the foreseeable future. "I’m in it for the long haul," Rankin laughed. "You’re not getting me out of here without a court order."
Larrabee said he will continue to work with the board of trustees to develop the Main Street property, but the focus for now is to expand education, events and exhibits, not putting up new structures. "It’s certainly on our list of things to do," he said of development plans. "Any building project takes time."
Rankin is the co-founder of a digital-media company based in Park City. Prior to signing on at the Kimball, she helped raise millions of dollars for public and private ventures. She attracted $3.2 million in capital to start her business with partner Jim Banister in Park City and was part of a fundraising team that raised more than $80 million for the Richard Ivey School of Business, a school in Canada.
Her real skill, she said, is socializing. She is a featured speaker at a Utah Fund of Funds entrepreneur workshop Oct. 23 at the downtown library in Salt Lake City where she will talk about networking.
"My sweet spot is building relationships," said Rankin, who is from Canada. "We have the opportunity to serve up programs all year round and return the Kimball to the place to be."
Although she has been on the job for just one week, Rankin has already planned an ambitious program for the center that features beefed-up community art classes, a revamped Web site, a locals’ photo exhibit and expanded membership benefits.
The sour economy has hit Park City nonprofits hard, Larrabee said, and put a renewed emphasis on the importance of complementing the Kimball’s 12 full- and part- time staff members with volunteers. Organizers are asking people to help Nov. 15 with "Love the Kimball" day. Patrons will paint and help build a rock garden at the facility at 638 Park Ave. Rankin emphasized the fact that there are many ways to assist. Monetary support is just one avenue.
"We’re kicking off a new era to make a thriving hub of activity" for tourist, second homeowners and locals, she said.
Michelle McConnell, the director of events, said the Kimball will look to expand its role in the community as Park City residents take fewer vacations. McConnell plans to spearhead a new social group for women that pairs wine tasting with art education.
For the first Wining Women, on Dec. 11, participants will string together beads to make wine glass markers. "It’s a great way to get away for an evening, get out of the house," McConnell said. "It’s for wine lovers with an art problem."
Rankin’s pet project for Halloween is the Barking Lot, where animal lovers, and their kids, can have their photos taken with pets under the torch sculpture outside the center. Organizers will frame and hang the photos in the art center’s basement as part of a locals exhibit.
Rankin arrived in Park City on Oct. 31 eight years ago. She was a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding and trekked thousand of miles from Toronto to make the date. She was surprised by the four-legged sleuths that greeted her. There were dogs in bumble bee outfits, and dogs dressed as the Village People parading down Main Street as part of the annual parade.
Rankin said she was charmed.
"I want to further create a warm and welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels inspired and motivated to get involved in any number of different ways," she said. "But I also want to help the Kimball build a bridge to the future, to collaborate with local artists, businesses and foundations to raise the whole cultural tide. We all benefit from a higher profile of cultural influence in Park City."
Meet Rankin at the downtown library in Salt Lake City during her brownbag lecture about networking that runs from noon until 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. Rankin also encourages patrons to stop by the Kimball anytime to say hello.
Education, events and exhibits at the Kimball
From holiday-themed workshops to family-friendly arts and crafts to classes for teens and adults, there is something for everyone in this winter’s educational offerings. Highlights of the winter schedule, which runs November and December, include classes specially designed for teens in jewelry, pottery, drawing and painting. Also of note are three mixed-media painting seminars with Salt Lake City artist Kim Massaro, as well as a three-session digital photography class in fundamental techniques with Robert Hall.
The "Halloween Barking Lot" Oct 31st is from 1 – 4 p.m. and features kids events, face painting, hot apple cider, digital photography for kids and pets, and the creation of a gallery wall with dog photos from the Historic Main Street Business Alliance to display community kids, pets and fingerprints. The display opens Nov. 7.
The Ghouls and Gallery Stroll runs from 5 -8 p.m. also on Halloween.
"Love the Kimball Day" is Nov. 15. Organizers invite supporters to paint, weed, create a rock garden and plant crab apple trees.