Carnegie Arts Center Director Resigns

Alex Cantatore/|

The Carnegie Arts Center's Executive Director and Curator, Rebecca Phillips Abbott, is stepping down from her post, the center announced Wednesday.

Abbott's resignation will be effective as of Friday. Abbott cited “added family obligations” as the cause for her resignation.

“I just have, at this point, new obligations that require me to take more time away than I can have right now,” Abbott said.

The timing of Abbott’s departure should work well, she said, as a “fantastic board” and “winning staff” are in place to shepherd the Carnegie Arts Center forward. In large part, that established governance structure is due to Abbott’s leadership, which helped to define the new Carnegie Arts Center’s role and purpose.

“I have had, in my career, some very exciting opportunities,” Abbott said. "And the Carnegie Arts Center ranks at the top of them.”

Abbott has been the Carnegie's director since shortly before the rebuilt and expanded center opened in September 2011. She led fundraising efforts and curated shows featuring the work of internationally renowned artists like Ansel Adams, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso.

“Rebecca Phillips Abbott has established the Carnegie Arts Center as a destination for residents from the Central Valley region and beyond,” said Carnegie Foundation Board President Jeani Ferrari. “Her efforts have positioned us well to continue offering exciting opportunities for engagement with the arts. Rebecca has brought a level of professionalism that was recognized and appreciated by thousands of gallery visitors; she has an amazing talent.”

Current Carnegie Arts Center Assistant Director Lisa McDermott will assume the role of Interim Director effective Saturday. McDermott previously served as the City of Turlock's Arts Facilitator from November 2001 through June 2009, when her position was eliminated due to budget cuts. She also worked as a registrar or assistant curator at three different museums for 14 years.

Abbott said she was uncertain what the board planned with regards to finding a permanent replacement.

Abbott will remain in the area, and will continue to serve as guest curator for selected exhibitions including the “Carnegie Rocks” show which will open in May. That exhibition will feature rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia from the collection of Turlocker Matt Swanson.

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