Jennifer McCabe has been named director and chief curator for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She was officially promoted in September after serving for several months as acting director of the museum.
McCabe was named acting director after Sara Cochran resigned as director and chief curator in April 2018. McCabe first joined the museum in late 2016, serving as curator of contemporary art.
“We’re really pleased to have Jennifer in this position,” says Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO for Scottsdale Arts. “She has tremendous skills and experience that will benefit the museum moving forward.”
McCabe has taught modern and contemporary art at Arizona State University, San Francisco State University, Mills College, and City College of San Francisco. Before joining SMoCA, she served as executive director and chief curator of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. She holds a master's in art history from SF State, and is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at ASU.
Scottsdale Arts, a nonprofit organization founded in 1987, oversees the museum, as well as Scottsdale Public Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and Scottsdale Arts Education and Outreach.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1999, was transformed from a movie theater into a museum by Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder, whose other projects include the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix.
The museum specializes in not only contemporary art, but also architecture and design. “We’re the only museum in the Valley with that focus,” Wuestemann says. Next year, the museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Recently, the museum hired Hanh Ho, owner of Cydonia Gallery in Dallas, as its new curator. She'll be working remotely until the end of the year, before relocating to the Valley.
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“That gallery experience and perspective will be really important,” says Wuestemann. The museum is situated in Old Town, where galleries have participated in weekly art walks since 1975. “We want to work with the galleries, rather than being competitors," he adds.
The museum is also working on several collaborations, and looking at new ways to explore connections between art, technology, and science. In recent years, its most popular installations, including Oceans of Light: Submergence by Squidsoup and Infinity Room by Refik Anadol, have been technology-based.
For now, they’re focused on the opening celebration for SMoCA's fall season, which happens on Friday, October 26. In addition to new exhibitions, the museum will be revealing a new mural by Phoenix-based artist Janel Garza.
“We’re excited about the energy and momentum that’s happening here,” Wuestemann says.