Amada Cruz will be Phoenix Art Museum's new director, the museum's board of trustees announced in a press release on Monday, November 17.
Cruz will take on the role on February 1, 2015, replacing longtime director James Ballinger, who announced in April 2014 his intention to retire after nearly 40 years with the museum.
Ballinger has been with the museum for 40 years this December, and he's been director of the museum for 32 of those years. In the release, Ballinger says he will help with the transition "for as long as my input, assistance, and counsel is needed to ensure that the transition is smooth so Amada can hit the ground running and continue the Museum's forward progress."
Cruz is currently the executive director at San Antonio's Artpace, a nonprofit contemporary art gallery. She was born in Havana, Cuba, got her start as an intern at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Her résumé includes working as program director for United States Artists in Los Angeles and executive director of Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue in New York City. She has also worked at the Center for Curatorial Studies Museum at Bard College, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution.
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"Amada has a solid track record of building programs and new initiatives at Bard College, USA Artists and, most recently, Artpace," says Jim Patterson, chairman of Phoenix Art Museum's board of trustees. "The search process was thorough, comprehensive and demanding and the search committee was unanimous in choosing Amada as the new director to build upon the remarkable foundation established by Jim Ballinger and his staff. She brings a very high-energy, creative and entrepreneurial approach to museum leadership and we are confident she can lead us to the next level of distinction."
It would seem that item number-one on Cruz's to-do list will be finding a contemporary art curator for Phoenix Art Museum.
Recently, the museum's board rescinded a job offer for the curatorship made to Jennifer Sudul Edwards. The board took back the offer because its members wanted Ballinger's replacement to have a hand in hiring a new contemporary art curator. The museum hasn't had a contemporary art curator since Sara Cochran left the position in November 2013.