100 Creatives

Amada Cruz of Phoenix Art Museum on the Best Part of Her Job

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 13. Amada Cruz.

Every day is a big project for Amada Cruz. That comes with the job.

Cruz, 55, has served as the director of Phoenix Art Museum since February 2015, running and planning the future of an institution with a collection of more than 18,000 works. Before she earned the top job at the museum, and replaced longtime director James Ballinger who held the job for 33 years of his 40 at the museum, Cruz worked as executive director at San Antonio's Artpace, a nonprofit contemporary art gallery.

Her credentials stretch back decades and include 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.

"I’ve worked in the art world in various U.S. cities for 30 years, as a contemporary art curator, a grant maker, and a museum director," Cruz, who was born in Havana, Cuba, says of how she arrived at this point in her career. 

Now living in Scottsdale, Cruz says her days start early with e-mails, continue with a busy schedule of meetings at the museum, and stretch into the evenings with social events. The most surprising thing she's discovered about metro Phoenix since moving here? "It’s a more philanthropic community than people imagine," Cruz says.

Thus far, there have been quite a few career high points, she says. "I love what I do. But the best part of my job at PAM is when I’m in the galleries surrounded by happy visitors."

I came to Phoenix with my husband, books, ar t… and lots of plans for the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM).

I make art because ... actually, I leave that to the professionals.

I'm most productive when I’m inspired by someone’s great idea, and I get enough sleep and coffee.

My inspiration wall is full of ... it’s more of a library of books.

I've learned most from artists, definitely, and my feisty/smart Cuban parents.

Good work should always be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Phoenix creative scene could use more of a central hub with art galleries, restaurants, performing art venues, and an indie movie theater all within walking distance of the Phoenix Art Museum. We’re getting there. 

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
31. Amy Robinson
30. Julio Cesar Morales
29. Duane Daniels
28. Kelsey Pinckney
27. Ben Smith
26. Rembrandt Quiballo
25. Corinne Geertsen
24. Tess Mosko Scherer
23. Slawomir Wozniak
22. Elly Finzer
21. Josh Brizuela
20. Amy K. Nichols
19. Angela Johnson
18. Grant Vetter
17. Michelle and Melanie Craven
16. Erick Biez
15. Leah Marche
14. Lisa Von Hoffner