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A finished work for Art Museum head

Stewart Oksenhorn

Looking over what she described as “a long tenure,” Suzanne Farver,executive director of the Aspen Art Museum, realized she had accomplishedher goals at the local museum. So Farver, who took over an institution in turmoil seven yearsago, has decided to step down from her position.”The museum was really in financial trouble at that point,” saidFarver, speaking of the time in March 1992, when she moved froma year-and-a-half stint as director of public affairs with theAnderson Ranch Arts Center to the head job at the Art Museum.”They had fired the director; the board was being reformulated.”I saw it as an institution that was important to the community.I thought it needed to be strong. I wanted it to get to the pointwhere it didn’t need me. And we’re at that point,” she said.In fact, the Art Museum, though on solid financial footing, isnot quite at the point yet where Farver’s services are no longerneeded. At the moment, Farver is part of the museum’s search committeelooking for her replacement. She said she will not officiallyabandon her post until a new executive director is found. Themuseum has started a director’s salary fund which, combined witha $1 million endowment presently being built, will provide a securesalary for the next director.Though the executive director’s position has been a full-timejob, Farver never relied on the position for its pay. When shebegan, her salary was in the neighborhood of $45,000; she saidshe now gets a check every other week for $95. “It frittered awayover the years, to give to other people,” said Farver, who alsodevelops individual housing projects locally. Farver said the search for a new director, already under way,will likely take about six months, but she has set no specificdate for her departure. “I’m here until we find the right person,”she said.Though Farver has been an art collector throughout her adult life,she brought more of a business background to her position at themuseum. Still, she kept a sharp eye on the artistic goals of theArt Museum. During her tenure, the museum brought in exhibitionsof increasing prestige: a retrospective of still life paintingspanning 200 years, an exhibit of Old Masters paintings and drawings,and one-person shows by Walton Ford, Nancy Rubins and Tony Oursler.Mixed in among the renowned artists has been a consistent dedicationto local talent in the Roaring Fork Open and Roaring Fork Annualshows and the Valley Kids shows.”We serve so many different publics,” said Farver. “The residentcommunity, the kids all the way up and down the valley. And themore sophisticated collectors whom we serve, who are big supportersand contributors to the museum. Bringing together exhibits thatserve all those people has been a big emphasis. And there’s alwaysan emphasis on quality.”Farver, an Iowa native who moved to Aspen in 1990, plans to spendmore time with her position as a member of the board of the AspenCountry Day School, where her two daughters are enrolled. A graduateof Iowa’s Grinnell College, Farver is a former French horn studentwith the Aspen Music Festival and School.


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