After a year as senior curator at the Salt Lake Art Center, Micol Hebron is moving back to Los Angeles, where she will continue to manage contemporary art exhibitions in Utah via telecommuting and monthly visits.
Hebron says that for career and family reasons she decided to return to her full-time teaching job at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. At the same time, she plans to guide the Art Center's programming through 2013.
Hebron, who was hired in August 2010, has scheduled exhibitions two years into the future, says Adam Price, the center's executive director. "We promoted her to chief curator and we will be looking for a new senior curator."
Price and Hebron says they are in daily communication by phone and email, and Hebron will return monthly for exhibition planning and installation.
Hebron says long-distance curating is "an increasingly common model. It's a way to define the role."
Her duties in fundraising and public relations will be delegated to other staff members, Price says. He believes the center's fundraising will support the new curator position.
"If you think about what a curator does, it's quite doable [by telecommuting]," Price says. "Micol's spent enough time here to understand the community she's working in. She can conceive of shows anywhere. It's actually not as problematic as it would seem on first blush."
Exactly how Hebron will be paid has yet to be worked out, but it will be considered a full-time job, Price says. He declined to disclose Hebron's annual salary at the nonprofit.
In her year in Utah, Hebron was instrumental in launching a Locals Only Gallery, creating the "Lawn Gnomes Eat Your Heart Out" show that featured lawn art around the city, cooperating with other museums in Utah in joint exhibits and curating a show of Utah artists at a Los Angeles gallery. But much of her work is just coming to fruition because shows are planned one to two years in advance, Price says.
Price acknowledges the long-distance arrangement presents challenges. "It's not an ideal move I love having Micol around," he said. "She very much wants to maintain a relationship with the Art Center."
Art Center board member Josh Kanter says the board is delighted with Hebron's work and wants to see the new arrangement succeed. "It's clearly a bit of a setback in the cohesive group of people we have at the center," Kanter says. "This arrangement will keep the integrity of the curatorial direction Micol has set."
Artist Trent Alvey, a center board member, says many in the local contemporary-art community were disappointed to hear that Hebron was returning to Los Angeles.
Hebron, who had a reputation for working long hours, might be able to pull off the long-distance job. "Normally, I would say it would be too much for one person, but I think Micol can maintain it," Alvey says. "She has a lot of energy and she'll be able to travel back and forth. She is prepared to do anything it takes to keep us on track. She's feisty."
Hebron brought an outsider's perspective to the Utah contemporary-art scene. "She wasn't biased toward artists who are already recognized," Alvey says. "She spotted some really good art by underappreciated artists. It's really healthy to get a new eye on the art scene."
A benefit of her return to Los Angeles is that Utah artists will have a connection to West Coast art centers, Alvey says. "She'll be able to channel some really talented local artists into the L.A. scene," she says. "We need somebody who can promote our artists out of state. It's a difficult thing to break out of here."
The Art Center will be interviewing candidates for the senior curator job during the next month, Price says, and hopes to appoint someone by the middle of October. He hopes to build on Hebron's expertise by attracting candidates from art centers nationwide, including New York, Chicago and Miami.
"It could be a great opportunity for us, if we could bring in a curator with exposure to other parts of the country."
Art center's shows
P Many upcoming exhibits at the downtown center will demonstrate Micol Hebron's curatorial eye. For information, visit slartcenter.org.
Where • 20 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City
Hours • Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Info • Free admission
Background • For The Tribune's profile of Hebron, published in September 2010, visit bit.ly/nENPHC