Scottsdale Arts (formerly Scottsdale Cultural Council) is the nonprofit organization that oversees Scottsdale Public Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Curry-Evans formerly served as public art coordinator for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. Her first day as director of Scottsdale Public Art will be Monday, September 11.
She replaces Donna Isaac, who announced her retirement as director of Scottsdale Public Art in April 2017. Isaac's retirement became effective on June 30, but she'll be a part-time consultant to Scottsdale Arts through August.
Isaac's accomplishments include elevating Scottsdale Arts' annual Canal Convergence to an event attended by more than 80,000 people.
"I appreciate Donna's accomplishments, and I'm honored to have been chosen for this position," Curry-Evans says.
It's a full-circle moment for Curry-Evans, who moved to Mesa during middle school while her father was stationed at Williams Air Force Base. Her parents still live in the house they built in the East Valley, so in some ways taking this new job feels like returning to her roots.
"It's wonderful to think about coming back," she says. "It feels a lot like coming home."
Curry-Evans earned a bachelor of arts degree in art history from Arizona State University in 1987. But she actually started as a business major, and spent a year taking classes at Mesa Community College. "That's where I took my first art history class, and I fell in love with it," she says.
After college, she got a job with Scottsdale Cultural Council. She helped with exhibitions and the public art collection. Before Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art opened 1999, artwork was displayed in the performing arts center atrium.
"I remember being up on a scissor lift my first day, replacing a tube that had fallen from a 144-piece work by Dale Eldred," she says.
She left Arizona in 2002 to become director of visual arts at 40 Acres Art Gallery in Sacramento, California. After that, she served as public art coordination for the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. Her last day there was Monday, July 24. She learned about the Scottsdale Public Art opportunity through a public art list-serv.
Curry-Evans' first priorities at Scottsdale Arts include getting to know the staff. "I want to be supportive of the great work they're already doing," she says. "I want to help the signature Canal Convergence event reach even more people, and find ways to engage more people in Scottsdale's other public art offerings."
Creating more diverse audiences is one of her priorities, as well.
"As a person of color, I can bring a different perspective," she says. "I want to help more people experience the arts and have access to the arts." She'd also like to see more people from other parts of the Valley participating in Scottsdale Arts events and programs.
Curry-Evans is one of three new people joining Scottsdale Arts in leadership positions. Amy Nesbitt starts as the new director for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in August. Scott McDaniel, formerly controller for Phoenix Art Museum, will become the director of finance/administration for Scottsdale Arts in August.