After seven months as the Austin Museum of Art's interim executive director, Dana Friis-Hansen has been named the permanent successor to Elizabeth Ferrer as AMOA's executive director.
Friis-Hansen Gets the Job
He's been running the show in the short term; now, he gets to do it for the long haul. Since July of 2001, when Executive Director Elizabeth Ferrer submitted her resignation to Austin Museum of Art CEO Bill McLellan, Chief Curator Dana Friis-Hansen has been serving the museum as its interim executive director -- and apparently doing a bang-up job of it. Last Thursday, February 21, McLellan announced that Friis-Hansen will formally succeed Ferrer as the permanent executive director, effective immediately. It's a tremendous vote of confidence for the accomplished curator and writer, who came to Austin in the fall of 1999 after establishing himself as an expert in contemporary art through stints at Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum (twice), MIT's List Visual Arts Center, and Tokyo's Nanjo and Associates private curatorial service. Since he's been here, Friis-Hansen has developed an enthusiastic following locally for his grasp of the current art scene around the globe, his sharp sensibilities in buying works for AMOA's fledgling permanent collection, and the personal quality he brings to his approach to art, but this move involves much greater administrative responsibilities -- and at a sensitive time for AMOA, what with the serious cuts in the museum's operating budget and staff this past year and the future of its permanent downtown museum still to be settled. Still, there's a strong sense that Friis-Hansen has the savvy, the skill, and the energy necessary to lead the museum through this trying time and fulfill its longtime dreams of growth and development. One step in that direction may well be AMOA's exhibition "Twenty-Two to Watch," a survey of local artists on the move. It represents the first major show the museum has mounted of new Austin art. Until it opens on April 6, however, you can learn more about Friis-Hansen by checking out the excellent profile by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin in the February 24 Austin American-Statesman (www.statesman.com).