Andrea Grover, who is presently the curator of special projects at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, will assume the helm of Guild Hall in East Hampton on September 1 when she becomes the new executive director of the nonprofit museum, theater and cultural institution.
Ms. Grover has been with the Parrish Art Museum since 2011. She curated the Parrish’s successful art exhibition “Radical Seafaring,” which just closed on Sunday, and among her other credits are the Parrish Road Show off-site exhibitions and the “Platform” artists’ projects that integrate the Parrish building and grounds. Back in 1998, she founded the Aurora Picture Show, a center for film and new media in Houston, and she served as its director for 10 years. Before joining the Parrish, she was a Warhol Curatorial Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, and in 2013 she was awarded a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellowship with a residency at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Ms. Grover explained how she will apply her background to her new position, and what she is looking forward to.
The Press: What attracted you to the opportunity to work at Guild Hall?
Andrea Grover: I come from an interdisciplinary background (in art, science, new media, and live performance), and Guild Hall has an illustrious history of bringing together visual, literary, performing arts, film, lectures, educational programs, and so forth. The entire complex, from the theater to the galleries, to the newly launched artist residency program, holds immense appeal to me as someone who lives to bring people together around art and ideas. The name Guild Hall means gathering place, and in the tradition of lyceums and other teaching places, lends itself to the cross-pollination of the arts with other branches of knowledge—a meeting of the minds.
How will you apply your background with the Aurora Picture Show to Guild Hall? And how will your experience at the Parrish help you at Guild Hall?
My guiding principle is to let artists lead the way. Artists see the future, and they’re the ones we should look to when we want to know what will be happening, culturally, in years to come. Aurora was a kind of creative laboratory with artists and thought leaders at the helm. I took a similar approach at the Parrish through programs like PechaKucha, Platform, Parrish Road Show, and “Radical Seafaring.” Guild Hall is structured as an interdisciplinary center, and it’s evident that art and conversation already thrive there. I can’t wait to dive into that dialogue.
Moving from a curatorial position to a role with more administrative duties, will you still get many opportunities at Guild Hall to use your curating background?
I have had held different positions in the arts ranging from founder to director to researcher and curator, and I started my career as a visual artist. In 2013, I was a fellow in the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL), which is a program that trains curators for executive roles in art museums. The impetus for founding the CCL, started by Elizabeth Easton and Agnes Gund, was to have curatorial voices at the leadership level. I’m happy to have completed this fellowship with an esteemed cohort, many of whom are now at the helm of major museums—Rebecca Rabinow is the director of The Menil Collection in Houston, Judith Dolkart is director at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, and Nina Zimmer directs two Swiss museums, Zentrum Paul Klee and Museum of Fine Arts Bern. The CCL has an excellent track record and I’m thrilled to be among their success stories.
Where are you living these days? Will you move for the new job?
My husband, Carlos Lama, daughters Gigi and Lola, and I live off Noyack Bay and find it convenient to everywhere. The girls go to school in Sag Harbor and both participate in band and theater; they’re beyond eager to start regularly attending performances at Guild Hall. Carlos manages Innersleeve Records in Amagansett and has breathed new life into the vinyl scene out here; he sings in several bands, and in the summer he teaches electronic music at the Summer Camp at Ross. We have found a little utopia for all our creative impulses.
Are there any new initiatives that you would like to implement at Guild Hall, or any existing programs that you are looking forward to programming?
I am an intellectual sponge at the moment, meeting with the staff, patrons and community stakeholders. A group of us are intent on getting the leadership from our many thriving cultural institutions together to build an even stronger creative community. In the meantime, it is an honor to be asked to create the vision for the next phase of Guild Hall and I am all ears.