Dear Friends and Members,
Though we may not have met in person (and I sincerely hope that we will have the opportunity to do so in the future), I’m no stranger to the California African American Museum (CAAM). In some ways, I feel as though I’ve come back “home.”
Years ago, I had the pleasure of serving on CAAM’s State Board of Directors. I was appointed by then Governor Pete Wilson. Eventually, the appointment was extended under Governor Gray Davis. While the State Board continues its search for a permanent Executive Director, I was asked by Todd Hawkins, CAAM’s State Board President and the Natural Resources Agency, to serve as Interim Executive Director. My focus has been on the fundamentals (staff development, marketing, infrastructure improvement, and maintaining our critical relationships with elected officials and the broader arts community).
I’ve been blessed to visit many of the great museums and world heritage sites. I believe it’s vitally important – if cultural institutions are to maintain sustainability for the future – that we work diligently to challenge ourselves, and make a commitment to evolve. It is especially critical for art institutions – no matter their size or budget – to envision, design and create meaningful exhibitions, and develop engaging programming that “speak to” and are relevant to both our younger and older constituencies. CAAM never wants to be an institution where “one-size-fits-all”.
With this in mind, we’ve opened four new exhibitions Flash Tag, Light Catchers, Shared Otherness, and The African American Journey West over the past several months. In August, CAAM will inaugurate Hard Edged, a comprehensive and expansive exhibition focusing on the works 30-plus African American artists with strong ties to Los Angeles whose practice is grounded in the visual vernacular of abstract art. To say this is an ambitious exhibition is truly an understatement.
We also are making a stronger and a more concerted effort to develop educational programs to be more aligned with the Common Core Standards of our local school district. I thank our Education Department for taking the lead on this initiative.
CAAM is very fortunate to have funding from the State, but we also need support from the greater community if we are to offer quality exhibitions and continue to provide our diverse city with free public programs. So, if you haven’t become a member yet, we encourage you to join. It’s easy enough to join - just click on this link: http://www.caamuseum.org/web_pages/memberships.htm.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that although we are based in Exposition Park, CAAM is a State of California museum. We plan to expand our outreach and our footprint throughout California with traveling exhibitions. At the same time, we encourage visitors to make CAAM a part of their itineraries.
This is a great institution that provides both tangible and intangible benefits to our community and beyond.
Join us as we embark upon a new chapter. And if you see me milling about our galleries on any given day, please make sure to say, “hello.”
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
George O. Davis, Interim Executive Director