Holcomb: ‘Timing is right…’

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After an eventful year-long celebration of the Gallery’s 100th anniversary and the successful opening of Centennial Sculpture Park, the timing was right for him, the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Grant Holcomb has announced his retirement as director effective July 1, 2014.

     Being the sixth director in the Gallery’s long history, Holcomb assumed the position in 1985 and over the course of three decades enhanced the Gallery’s permanent collections, broadened its exhibition programs and expanded the facilities. He led collaborations with cultural, educational and medical organizations that kept the Memorial Art Gallery an active leader for public engagement. “Grant has shaped the Gallery’s internal and external spaces and enhanced its collections in ways that will benefit art lovers for generations to come,” University President Joel Seligman said.

     Under Holcomb’s direction, the Gallery initiated high-profile exhibitions featuring the work of Maxfield Parrish, Edgar Degas, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jacob Lawrence. MAG also acquired works of art ranging 
from an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus and a Renaissance suit of armor to works by such noted 19th- and 20th-century artists as Albert Bierstadt, Leonard Volk, Walter Goodman, George Bellows, Joseph Cornell, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith and Christian Boltanski. The Centennial year culminated with the addition of major contemporary works by Yayoi Kusama and Kehinde Wiley.

     In addition, Holcomb supported significant initiatives between the Gallery’s Education Department and the University of Rochester Medical Center, the ARC of Monroe and the Alzheimer’s Association, among others. Programs like The Art of Observation and Meet Me at the MAG brought national recognition as medical professionals and caregivers, working with MAG staff, drew on the powers of art to enhance awareness and wellness.

Since that time, the Gallery has undergone three expansion projects–in 1922, 1968 and 1987. The most recent addition connects the original Gallery with Cutler Union, built in the 1930s as the women’s student union of the University of Rochester. Photo by Richard P. Wersinger.

Since that time, the Gallery has undergone three expansion projects–in 1922, 1968 and 1987. The most recent addition connects the original Gallery with Cutler Union, built in the 1930s as the women’s student union of the University of Rochester. Photo by Richard P. Wersinger.

     Continuing, Holcomb has long supported collaborative partnerships with other cultural organizations. Last year he received an award from Writers & Books for his “lifelong contributions to Rochester’s literary community.” Under his direction, the Gallery worked with, among others, Garth Fagan Dance, George Eastman House, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastman School of Music, Writers & Books and Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

     And if not least, Holcomb also brought significant changes to the buildings and grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery. At the beginning of his tenure, the addition of the Vanden Brul Pavilion linked the original 1913 building to Cutler Union establishing a new indoor art space and main Gallery entrance on University Avenue. Most recently MAG completed the Centennial Sculpture Park and opened up the grounds committing the outdoor space to public art and community engagement. Four new site-specific sculptures make the park the largest initiative in Gallery history.

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Published by on December 2013. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, Bugle Section, Educator's Row, New York. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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