By Bob Uphues
The woman credited with taking the Western Colorado Center for the Arts "to the next level as a regional center for the arts" has landed at Riverside Arts Center as the organization's new executive director.
Camille Silverman, who led the Grand Junction, Colorado, arts organization for eight years started her new job leading Riverside Arts Center on March 1. She's just the second executive director in the organization's history and the first in a decade.
"Board members had assumed a lot of those roles, and it seemed like too much for a volunteer board to keep up with," said Bob Finn, president of the Riverside Arts Center's board of directors.
Silverman was chosen from a field of 10 candidates for the job, said Finn, four of whom were interviewed. She'll be responsible for being the Riverside Arts Center's ambassador to the community and be involved in just about all areas of the center's operations, including establishing a broader base of support beyond Riverside and seeking grant opportunities.
"We're asking her to do a lot on a limited budget," Finn said. "We're going to grow into this together."
Among the major initiatives Silverman will undertake, according to a press release, is launching a membership drive leading up to the Riverside Arts Center's 25th anniversary celebration and to expand educational opportunities.
Silverman, who has an MFA in painting from Cranbrook Art Academy, received high marks from the Western Colorado Center for the Arts' board of directors.
According to an article from the Grand Junction Free Press announcing her departure in 2015, board member Robbie Breaux said Silverman "put together exhibits that expanded our horizons and made us think in different ways about art. She brought in regionally and nationally known artists for exhibits, lectures and workshops. Grand Junction and The Art Center are more widely accepted as a place to see and make great art."
Silverman moved to Chicago a little more than a year ago and continues to work as an artist in addition to her responsibilities at Riverside Arts Center. Her work will be exhibited in May in a two-person show at the Springfield Art Association's M.J. Nelson Family Gallery in Springfield.
"I've always wanted to live in Chicago," Silverman said. "It's a great place to experiment and has such a great community of artists."
She wants the Riverside Arts Center to be seen as a community center for the arts, to feature more visiting artists and make better use of the center's outdoor space.
"I'd love for people to come here and have lunch out there," Silverman said.
Silverman is the second major hire the arts center has made in the past year. Last spring, the organization hired Claudine Ise as the director of the Freeark Gallery of Art.
Less than a decade ago, the future of the Riverside Arts Center was in doubt. But in 2010, the arrival of newer board members like Piotrowski and Finn helped breathe new life into the organization.
Since that time, the arts center has expanded its exhibition offerings, introduced the FLEXSpace gallery and has partnered with school groups on special art projects in addition to continuing its own art class offerings.
But that's also led to a need for someone to oversee the operation, said Piotrowski.
"The Riverside Arts Center has great momentum right now and the board felt it was a good time to not only alleviate some board responsibilities, but to give an executive director the opportunity to bring RAC to the next level," Piotrowski said. "It will be very exciting to see what Camille will do. She's already off to a great start."
Silverman is planning a number of meet-and-greet events during the spring and summer, with the first "Figure Drawing with the Executive Director" coming on Monday, May 1 in the sculpture garden from 6 to 8 p.m.
Registration is required for the event. Visit www.riversideartscenter.com.