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Santa Monica Museum of Art looks to the future, with two new Deputy Directors and a new Board President
Claire Ruud joins SMMoA from Fluent-Collaborative, in Austin, Texas, where she was associate director. Photo: Barry Stone.

SANTA MONICA, CA.- The Santa Monica Museum of Art announces the appointments of two new co-deputy directors and a new board president as it ushers in the fall season’s groundbreaking exhibitions of work by Michael Queenland, Kianja Strobert, and Agnes Denes. Under executive director Elsa Longhauser’s twelve-year leadership, the Santa Monica Museum of Art has evolved into one of the most dynamic venues for contemporary art in the country.

Arts management consultant Gloria Gerace, who functioned as interim deputy director, led the executive search, and has been integral to the transition period. With these new hires, Longhauser has reorganized the leadership team following the departure of deputy director Lisa Melandri, who, after a flourishing decade at SMMoA, will head the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Following a six-month national search, Doug Rimerman and Claire Ruud have been selected as co-deputy directors. Rimerman will focus on advancement and board relations, and Ruud will concentrate on operations and external affairs. Each has many years of experience and a deep commitment to the arts. Both will begin their new positions in mid-October and will report directly to Longhauser.

Rimerman and Ruud have enjoyed demonstrable success in their work. Doug Rimerman most recently served as director of corporate and foundation relations at the Fulfillment Fund, an organization that transforms the lives of first-generation students through access to higher education. Prior to joining the Fulfillment Fund, Rimerman served as director of development at Kidspace Children’s Museum, where he played a major role in strategic planning for the organization’s realization of the Robert and Mary Galvin Physics Forest, a new physics and natural science garden. Before that, Rimerman worked for nearly ten years as a development officer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Claire Ruud joins SMMoA from Fluent-Collaborative, in Austin, Texas, where she was associate director. There, she oversaw testsite, the organization’s experimental exhibition space, and its online art journal. In addition to serving in both curatorial and editorial capacities, Ruud directed a strategic planning process that resulted in successful, new programming and partnerships for the organization. She co-founded Cook & Ruud, a think tank and art production company whose largest project, One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer, brought together new, site-specific work by emerging artists in four vacant commercial spaces and a park in Austin’s 2nd Street District. More recently, Ruud supervised planning for the renovation and reinterpretation of the Rodin Museum at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Ruud has served on the board of Artspace, New Haven; acted as a strategic consultant for Visual AIDS, New York; and for the past two years has written a regular column on nonprofit strategy and art for Glasstire. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Swarthmore College, a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art history from the University of Texas at Austin, and a master’s of business administration from the Yale School of Management.

Rimerman and Ruud join the museum at the beginning of an exciting new season of exhibitions, organized by curator-at-large Jeffrey Uslip. The exhibitions feature work by Los Angeles native Michael Queenland, who returns for his first solo West Coast exhibition, Michael Queenland: Rudy’s Ramp of Remainders. Kianja Strobert’s abstract paintings and sculpture is showcased in Project Room 1 in Kianja Strobert: Nothing to Do but Keep Going. Project Room 2 features three bodies of historical work by Land Art pioneer Agnes Denes in Agnes Denes: Body Prints, Philosophical Drawings, and Map Projections, 1969–1978. As Longhauser explains, “Each of these three artists has created an original vocabulary of abstract form using the trace—a brushstroke, a mark, an impression—to reveal the poetic interplay between the physical human body, everyday objects, and the social and cultural narratives that define our world.”

“With a rich history and an ever-evolving present, our attention is keenly focused on laying the groundwork for a vibrant and innovative future,” said Longhauser. Thanks to this new leadership, the museum will continue its important role in the community, furthering its mission to make contemporary art relevant and accessible to all. Doug Rimerman and Claire Ruud’s expertise and energy will add essential assets to our board and staff.”

SMMoA’s board of trustees’ executive committee will be led by newly elected board president Price Latimer Agah. The executive committee is guided by designer/philanthropist Rosa Sinnott as vice president, financial adviser Steve Buxbaum as treasurer, photographer Randi Malkin Steinberger as secretary, and philanthropist and collector Laura Donnelley as past president.

Board president Agah is an independent art curator and art consultant specializing in emerging, contemporary, and postwar art for private residents, collections, and public spaces. Agah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and studied at the Parsons School of Design in Paris and at Brown University. While attending RISD, Agah worked in New York for artist Peter Halley and edited his magazine, Index. A Texas native, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2000, first becoming associate director of ACE Gallery. Later, she joined the Italian furniture company Kartell before starting her own public relations firm specializing in fashion, art, and design. Agah, who joined the SMMoA Board in 2009, is also co-owner of Pizzanista!, a neighborhood pizzeria located in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles.

“I am honored to have been elected board president. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Elsa, the board of trustees, SMMoA’s incomparable staff, and now Doug and Claire,” said Agah. “In conjunction with our newly expanded and energized board, I will endeavor to uphold and increase the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s presence as one of the top contemporary art and educational resources in Southern California.”

The board of trustees at the Santa Monica Museum of Art includes Dean V. Ambrose, Jan Belson, Jeff Davis, Barbara Dunn, Charles Gaines, Ayn Grinstein, Gail Katz, Carla Kirkeby, Michael Klein, Nancy Klein, Kim McCarty, Shulamit Nazarian, David Nochimson, Bruce Samuels, Andrew Stearn, Leslie White, and Philip Yenawine.

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