The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, which had to lay off nearly all of its staff because of financial difficulties last fall, has hired a new director.

Suzette McAvoy of Belfast will serve as a consultant for the art center in Rockport for four months before taking over as full-time director in the fall, board Chairwoman Judith Daniels said Friday.

In addition to running the center as an administrator, McAvoy will have artistic oversight.

McAvoy replaces Mary Ann Schierholt, who joined center last summer. In a press release, the center said Schierholt resigned to return to California to spend time with her son and his family.

McAvoy brings credibility and name recognition to the position. She is a former chief curator at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, and has more than 20 years of experience as curator, administrator, consultant and teacher.

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art has been a leading presenter of contemporary art in the state since it began operating in 1952. Last fall, citing financial difficulties caused by the downturn in the economy, the center laid off four full-time staffers and announced that it would close for the winter.

Its board vowed to use the time to re-evaluate its mission and role.

“The Board of CMCA is honored to have Suzette McAvoy in an important leadership position here,” Daniels said in a statement. “We know Suzette will bring stimulating exhibitions and innovative programming to CMCA and to the arts community in Maine. CMCA, 58 years old and newly restructured and energized, is primed to move forward. Suzette is the best person to take us there.”

McAvoy said she expects better times and hopes to work “collaboratively with artists, collectors and supporters, as well as other arts organizations throughout the state, in fulfilling CMCA’s mission of furthering an appreciation for contemporary art.”

The center also hired Paula Blanchard of Camden as operations manager. Blanchard most recently was manager of marketing and consumer sales for Down East Books in Rockport.

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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