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Posted at 8:55 AM ET, 01/10/2011

Artisphere appoints first executive director

By Jacqueline Trescott
Executive Director José Ortiz in front of Anna U. Davis's "A Swedish Midsummer Feast," part of Artisphere's Party Crashers exhibition. (Artisphere)

Artisphere, the rock around the clock, multi-discipline center in Arlington, has selected its first executive director. Jose Ortiz, a veteran administrator who worked at the Harvard Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, starts Monday.

The concept and the newness of Artisphere, which opened Oct. 10, attracted him. "It represents a new type of model for an arts center," said Ortiz. The format also allows Ortiz and the staff to program work that is not only groundbreaking but that the major museums might shy away from. "There are some limitations at the major museums," Ortiz said. "Even though they say the programming is fresh, it is not as fresh as Artisphere, which could be entirely new."

Artisphere, which is managed by the Arlington Cultural Affairs office and partly financed by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, showcases a diversity of arts and is open 85 hours a week.

The facility has three visual art galleries, a 4,000 square foot ballroom and a town hall space. The events at Artisphere are a mix of free and ticketed.

Ortiz, 49, a graduate of Pace University and New York University, lived in Washgton for 4 1/2 years. Most recently he's been in the Boston area as deputy director of the complex of three art museums at Harvard.

"I became familiar with the arts scene in Washington and with the artists, dealers and collectors. It was great to think of reconnecting," Ortiz said.

Preparing for the new job, he has been watching the crowds at Artisphere. "I found it had great energy and people were very curious and walking around. If someone came to a dance performance, they saw that the gallery was opened. So they came for dance but now they are looking at the art on the wall."

By Jacqueline Trescott  | January 10, 2011; 8:55 AM ET
Categories:  Contemporary Art, Jacqueline Trescott, appointments  | Tags:  Artisphere, Arts in Arlington County, Jose Ortiz, Virginia arts complex  
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