Redux Contemporary Art Center's executive director of three years, Karen Ann Myers, is moving on, but she's not traveling too far away. Myers recently accepted a position as the Halsey's new assistant director, just a few blocks away from Redux. She'll make the move Oct. 3.
"Of course I'm sad. I feel like I'm kind of breaking up with someone," laughs Myers, who says she always planned to work in academia. "But I'm still going to be very involved in Redux. I'll have a studio here, and I'll still get to participate in its programing. It's actually amazing that I am staying in Charleston and able to pursue more varied experiences."
Myers has led the organization through some of its most successful years to date. The faltering economy seemed to have little impact on Redux as they consistently hosted a challenging roster of national-level contemporary artists, beefed up their educational offerings, and, most recently, renovated and expanded their St. Philip Street space. Myers also invested a lot of time into improving the studio artist program. "When I arrived at Redux, there wasn't really a strong sense of community between the studio artists," she says. "There wasn't a good work ethic by our studio artists. It was kind of a ghost town. That's what I've poured a lot of my energy into, really developing the studio program." Redux now boasts 35 talented studio artists.
Myers is taking over at the Halsey for Rebecca Silberman, who now works at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Halsey Director Mark Sloan says competition for the position, which drew nearly 100 applicants, was fierce, but Myers stood out. "She was just a solid candidate," Sloan says. "She was the one to beat. And part of that was because I knew her, because I knew her capabilities, but also the advantages were many in that she already knows the funding community and the arts community in Charleston." He also says he values her understanding of artists — considering that she is one herself — and her ability to work under tight budget constraints.
Myers' responsibilities will be similar to those she had at Redux, including helping with day-to-day activities, mounting exhibitions, assisting with shipping artwork, dealing with board members, and hanging shows. "We're just excited, wet-your-pants excited, because she's someone who has tremendous experience," Sloan says. "She's already run an organization, so she understands what's involved in the day-to-day stuff. She's going to hit the ground running. We don't really have to train her."
Yet despite the familiar nature of her new position, Myers hopes to broaden her horizons. "I do have seven years of gallery experience," she says, "but I'm still young and I have a lot to learn, and it's become apparent to me that in order to learn I need to seek new opportunities. Moving into a more established institution is a great place for me to do that.
"I'm drawn to research institutions because there's the expectation that you'd continuously be studying, researching, exploring, and learning," she adds. "And that's how I see my lifestyle being. Of course people can have that lifestyle in other environments, but it's expected in an academic environment."
Redux's board of directors is currently seeking a replacement for Myers, and she says she's made a few suggestions. "It's an exciting time for Redux," Myers says. "It's exciting to get a new perspective in here, new energy. ... I think my departure is perfectly timed for that."