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After Fourteen Years as Director of Laguna Art Museum, Bolton Colburn Steps Down
Colburn assumed the position as Director at a critical time for the Museum. Photo: Ted Reckas, courtesy of Laguna Art Museum.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA.- The Board of Trustees of Laguna Art Museum announced today that Bolton Colburn, Director of Laguna Art Museum, has decided to resign, effective May 13, 2011.

"I love Laguna Art Museum, its mission, and the community, but it is time for someone else to take the lead and for me to pursue other opportunities in the art world. I wish the Museum every good fortune and prosperity," said Colburn.

During the transition, Robert Hayden III, Board President, will work with the staff and department heads to ensure a smooth transition. Robert Hayden is the Chief Financial Officer of Industrial Metal Finishing, an Orange County based company.

The Board of Trustees has formed an executive search committee to assist in finding Colburn’s successor.

In his letter, Colburn said, “This was not an easy decision to make because serving the Museum and its Board of Trustees has been a great privilege and honor for me. I am pleased to have played an important role in the history of the Museum, first as a curator in the 1990s building the collection, organizing challenging exhibitions, and helping to define what would become the mission and future course of the Museum.”

Colburn assumed the position as Director at a critical time for the Museum. He served as the first Director of the re-established Laguna Art Museum following the merger between Laguna Art Museum and Newport Harbor Art Museum, which created the Orange County Museum of Art in 1995. “I am also proud of what I have been able to do as Director of the institution. The challenges of rebuilding the Museum after the merger were many but we stayed the course and reaffirmed the institution's mission and serious commitment to collecting and organizing scholarly exhibitions on the history of California art,” stated Colburn.

"Bolton Colburn is greatly responsible for setting the mission and direction of Laguna Art Museum. His extensive knowledge of California art history has been instrumental in programming groundbreaking and critically acclaimed exhibitions. His exceptional contributions to the Museum will continue to be felt for many years to come," said Robert Hayden III, President of the Board of Trustees.

Under Colburn's tenure the Museum made a focused examination of California art, forming a clearer picture of the distinctiveness of individual artistic practice as well as the place of regional art within broader historical movements. This examination resulted in the publication of several scholarly books and exhibitions during Colburn’s term, including recent projects such as Colonies of American Impressionism: Cos Cob, Old Lyme, Shinnecock and Laguna Beach (1999); In Nature's Temple: The Life and Art of William Wendt (2008) and Roger Kuntz: the Shadow Between Representation and Abstraction (2009). Colburn's deep reappraisal and reinterpretation of postwar art in particular led to Laguna Art Museum creating seminal exhibitions examining the crossover between popular culture and high art beginning around 1990, well before others were doing so. Some of the exhibitions he initiated and co-curated were: Kustom Kulture: Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Robert Williams, and Others (1993); Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing (2003); and In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor (2008).

In addition Colburn initiated, Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971, which will look at the inception of the art department at UC Irvine in the 1960s, which harbored a group of the most advanced artists, students and art writers in California, if not outside of New York. This exhibition will open in October 2011, and is part of the Getty Pacific Standard Time initiative this fall and winter.

Through the years, Colburn was instrumental in drawing significant contributions to the permanent collection from important private collectors including Judy Vida-Spence and Stuart Spence, Mickey and Ruth Gribin, The Krasnow Foundation, Nancy Dustin Wall Moure, and Diana Zlotnick.

Colburn worked in the curatorial department at La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (now Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) prior to becoming the Curator of Collections and Senior Curator at Laguna Art Museum. After the merger he was briefly the Senior Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art before returning to Laguna Art Museum. He holds a degree in Art History and Criticism from University of California San Diego.

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