Des Moines Art Center director Jeff Fleming prepares for retirement
For the last 25 years, Des Moines Art Center director Jeff Fleming has worked at the metro's fine art institution.
- Next month, after helming it for the last 17 years, Fleming is retiring to focus on his own personal art projects.
State of play: We chatted with Fleming to reflect on his career and the local art community.
💼 His retirement decision: "Twenty-five years is a third of the art center's history. So I think for the next 75 years, they should have a new voice."
🤝 Being inclusive: "Most importantly, people need to feel welcome and feel comfortable and feel like they belong somewhere."
- One of the main ways Fleming has worked on that goal is by providing free admission to the art center.
- In recent years, Fleming says the art center has increased its inclusivity focus and purchased more pieces from artists of color, LGBTQ+ or women.
🎨 Favorite exhibits: Sterling Ruby (2018) and Black Stories (2020).
- "It's really very difficult because they're all unique and interesting and hopefully, wonderful in their own way."
🖌 Growing art: The growth of new art-focused groups and facilities is one of the most exciting things he's seen over the years, including Mainframe Studios and the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation.
- Prior to the John Pappajohn Sculpture Park in 2009, the tax assessment for the area around it was up to $45 million. Since the sculptures were installed, it's grown to over $400 million.
- "There's wonderful growth" Fleming says.
What's next: Curator Kelly Baum, formerly of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is the new director of the art center.
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