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Phoenix Art Museum Hires New Curator of Contemporary Art

Gilbert Vicario, currently with the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa, has been hired as the new chief curator by the Phoenix Art Museum, reports Kerry Lengel for the Arizona Republic. The museum hasn’t had anyone filling that role in over a decade.

Vicario’s being brought in by Amada Cruz, who began as executive director of the museum in February; her predecessor, Jim Ballinger, left after heading the institution for thirty-two years. Previously assistant curator of Latin American Art and Latino Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Vicario also worked as US Commissioner for the 2006 International Biennale of Cairo, organizing the project “Daniel Joseph Martinez: The fully enlightened earth radiates disaster triumphant.”

Lengel notes that over a dozen staff members have left the museum in recent months, with Jerry Smith, curator for European, American, and Western art, resigning on Friday to become chief curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

“It’s not that I wanted people to leave, believe me. But thirty-two years of leadership at a museum is rare, so we already had an unusual situation where people literally grew up with Jim. When you have this sort of dramatic change, it’s not unanticipated, and it’s not unusual,” said Cruz, who has seen the addition of $4.7 million to the museum’s endowment since her arrival.