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Aspen Art Museum board announces new director

Stewart Oksenhorn
Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson is the new director of the Aspen Art Museum.
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Though its director is about to exit, the Aspen Art Museum is far from broken. So Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, who was announced yesterday as the museum’s new director and chief curator, isn’t looking to fix it.”I think what I’ll be doing is building on what he’s done,” said Jacobson from California, referring to Dean Sobel, whose six-year tenure at the Aspen Art Museum ends Feb. 21. “But with my own aesthetic.” She added that she will focus on developing partnerships with other Aspen nonprofit organizations and on upgrading the museum’s facility.”I think Dean left us in great shape,” said Dick Osur, president of the board of the museum. “All of us feel he brought us to another level, both financially, and in the quality, by getting us accredited [by the American Association of Museums]. We’re hoping Heidi can bring us to another level, with her past achievements and connections worldwide.”Jacobson has demonstrated that international view of the contemporary art world over her six-year stint as the Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum. Among the more than 40 one-person exhibitions she curated for the MATRIX Program of Contemporary Art were shows by German, Australian, Vietnamese, Israeli and British artists.

Jacobson hopes to expand on Sobel’s work in bringing emerging artists to the Aspen Art Museum. At Berkeley, she curated numerous exhibitions by international artists having their first solo museum shows. “I have a track record – which Dean did as well – of noting trends,” said the 37-year-old.”One thing she’s been able to do,” Osur said, “is identify emerging artists and put them in a museum before they’re really big.”Jacobson plans on moving to the valley in late June, and assuming the directorship of the museum July 1. Prior to that, she will make several visits to Aspen – to attend the National Council Weekend in late February, and to help install Girls Night Out, a traveling group show of work by female artists that opens June 3.Jacobson’s father, Matthew Zuckerman, lives in Woody Creek. Her stepmother, Sandy Zuckerman, has lived in the valley on and off since 1974. Jacobson herself has not spent much time in Aspen and had never been in the Aspen Art Museum until the interviewing process for the directorship began. Still, she says she was familiar with the museum’s programs.

“You get a lot of information from publications and websites,” she said. “The contemporary art world is a small place.”Prior to taking the position at Berkeley, Jacobson spent five years at The Jewish Museum and at the alternative exhibition space Correct CE in her native New York. She is co-chair of the steering committee for the Summer Curator’s Conference, an annual peer-nominated gathering of curators of contemporary art at American institutions, and is on the faculty of the Masters Program in Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.Jacobson and her husband Christopher, a green builder, have two children, ages 4 and 1.

Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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