Phoenix Art Museum announces departure of modern and contemporary art curator, plans for national search

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Phoenix Art Museum announces departure of modern and contemporary art curator, plans for national search
Gilbert Vicario concludes seven years of service in October 2022. Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum.

PHOENIX, AZ.- Phoenix Art Museum will begin a national search for a new Selig Family Chief Curator this fall following the announced departure of Gilbert Vicario, who concludes seven years of service in October 2022. Vicario joined the Museum in 2015 and over his tenure has grown and diversified the Museum’s modern and contemporary art and Latin American art collections, furthered the institution’s support of local and regional artists, edited and authored various scholarly publications, and curated numerous landmark exhibitions, including the current special-engagement exhibition Desert Rider, on view until September 18, 2022. Vicario will assume the role of Chief Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami in October 2022.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Phoenix Art Museum, the staff, and our community, we offer our gratitude to Gilbert Vicario not only for his incredible work elevating the Museum’s modern and contemporary art programs but for helping to reposition our institution as a more inclusive space, one that welcomes and better reflects our diverse audiences throughout Phoenix and the greater Southwest region,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum.“Gilbert’s legacy leaves a lasting impact on the role Phoenix Art Museum plays within our community. We congratulate him on his new position and are excited to see all he achieves as the new Chief Curator of Pérez Art Museum Miami.”

During his time with Phoenix Art Museum, Vicario developed and brought numerous groundbreaking exhibitions to the Valley, exposing Arizona audiences to internationally renowned modern and contemporary artists. He curated exhibitions such as Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain; Stories of Abstraction: Contemporary Latin American Art in the Global Context; The Propeller Group (in collaboration with Naomi Beckwith and Claudia Schmunkli); and Sheila Pepe: Hot Mess Formalism. He also curated the landmark exhibition Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, which traveled to three venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, making it the first PhxArt exhibition to travel to a museum in New York City. As organizing curator, Vicario brought outstanding traveling exhibitions to Phoenix, including Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Secretaría de Cultura through the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México.

Additionally, Vicario co-edited and authored various scholarly publications, including Sheila Pepe: Hot Mess Formalism and Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, which is on its third reprint due to high demand. Vicario also worked closely with the donor community to grow and diversify the Museum’s modern and contemporary art collections. He helped the institution acquire works by artists such as Rashid Johnson, Derek Fordjour, Arcmanoro Niles, and Shara Hughes through the Dawn and David Lenhardt Contemporary Art Initiative. Additionally, Vicario oversaw and grew programs that provided direct support for local and regional artists, including the annual Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award and the Sally and Richard Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards grant programs. He also helped the Museum acquire works by regional artists such as Geny Dignac, Rotraut, Liz Cohen, and Matt Magee.

“The working and personal relationships I’ve made during my time at Phoenix Art Museum are very meaningful to me,” said Vicario. “The Sonoran desert is an incredible place with stunning landscapes, rich cultures, and deeply talented artists, all of whom offer valuable and distinct perspectives on our time. I have deep roots in Sonora, Mexico, and I feel spiritually and culturally connected to this region. It has been an honor to serve this community, and I look forward to seeing how the art of the Southwest continues to thrive and gain the recognition it deserves on a national scale.”

The Museum will launch a national search for its next Selig Family Chief Curator this fall. The new curator’s portfolio of responsibilities will include oversight of the Museum’s curatorial division, as well as modern and contemporary art exhibitions and acquisitions.

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