As the Schneider Museum at OCA moves from strength to strength, most recently with its participation in the prestigious, statewide Portland Biennial, Scott Malbaurn has moved from his interim position as executive director of the museum into a permanent position. Quills and Queues caught up with Malbaurn to ask him about his vision for the future.
JG: Scott, congratulations on your permanent appointment as executive director at the Schneider Museum of Art. What is your first order of business now that you'll be staying?
SM: My first order of business is to keep the excitement and energy going and to build on what we have been doing. This past year I did not treat the position as a temporary position. I treated it as an opportunity to do good things for the museum, the university, our students and community. We will continue those good things and do more. I am working closely with Dr. David Humphrey, the Director of the Oregon Center for the Arts (see Quills & Queues, June 16) here at Southern Oregon University, on a new strategic plan for a successful future. It is great working with David. He is a visionary who believes anything is possible. This is very exciting times for the museum and myself.
JG: What direction do you see the museum taking in the next three to five years?
SM: The museum has been on a contemporary art path. Many of our valued members and volunteers tell us that they want to see artwork that they otherwise feel like they would have to travel to see. But, we are thinking of new and exciting ways to work with our local artists as well. We have brought in a visiting guest curator this past year who, through research on Oregon artists, selected many for studio visits from Ashland to Portland and choose eight to show at the museum this past winter. Two of the eight artists are from Ashland.
We want to highlight the young emerging artist, the mid-career as well as the blue-chip artist. We see it as a spectrum that reflects the international contemporary art world. We also want to collaborate with other nonprofit arts organizations such as we did with the Ashland Independent Film Festival this past spring and Disjecta this summer.
JG: Tell us a little bit about the Schneider's involvement in the Portland Biennial in 2016.
SM: The Schneider Museum of Art has exhibited Portland Biennial artists in the past. But this has always been a follow up. This year is the first time that we are participating simultaneously and this is very exciting for us. Credit is due to the curator Michelle Grabner who proposed that the Biennial happen statewide. Michelle conducted 107 studio visits around Oregon and selected 34 artists for the Biennial. From the 34, Michele selected five diverse talents to show with us here at the Schneider Museum of Art. We see this experience as a way to participate in and support the contemporary arts ecology. The Biennial has been a major buzz around Oregon. Portland Mercury is calling it Oregon’s biggest art show.
JG: Where do you feel the gaps are at the Schneider where the public could make a more lasting and significant contribution?
SM: The public has been wonderful. Our attendance is up. Our volunteer base is strong and we are looking to provide even more opportunities to work with the community. The Museum is free and open to the public so please visit us often. We welcome everyone who wants to get involved. We can use more assistance in areas of education with our Free Family Days and docent tours. We are also looking for more opportunities to collaborate with local businesses through advising and sponsorships. We would like to grow and offer services here, such as a coffee cart and outdoor tables and chairs. We encourage anyone interested in getting involved to contact us here by calling 541-552-6245 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at email@example.com.