At their last meeting of 2014 this past Monday, ARTneo’s Board of Directors made a number of exciting announcements. For starters, John Farina has been formally appointed as the nonprofit’s next Executive Director. Christopher Richards was also named ARTneo’s new Curator and Collections Manager, and gallerist William Busta has been appointed to the board as longtime local arts advocates James and Nina Gibans depart. Additionally, the board announced that construction has begun on their new home at 78th Street Studios.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for me,” says Farina. “ARTneo is at such a important time in its history and I am honored to have been chosen to guide the organization though some major transitions. Getting us into a new location that puts us at the center of one of the most vibrant visual arts hubs in Cleveland is the first order of business. From there, I look forward to building on our previous great work in exhibitions and publication to engaging more of the community with this great organization - and making sure our incredible collection is seen and used. With a refocused mission, higher visibility, and expanded scholarship, I hope to secure ARTneo's place in Cleveland as the resource for regional art.”
With more than 25 years of nonprofit and private sector experience, Farina has established himself as a pillar in the local art community. He has served as ARTneo’s Interim Executive Director since January 2014, when previous Executive Director, Lauren Hansgen, moved on to other projects. Farina has served in leadership positions at several social service and arts organizations – including the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. He has previously served as a member of ARTneo’s board and advisory board. He is completing a four-year term as President of SPACES’ Board of Directors this month.
SPACES plans to announce their new board president early next week. Stay tuned for more details on that.
Farina and his fiancé Adam Tully own and operate the Maria Neil Art Project, an art gallery in Collinwood’s Waterloo Arts District. They are two of the city’s most respected art collectors, and have an impressive collection of local and regional artists. Works from this collection were part of Collector’s Affection, an exhibition highlighting favorites from their collection at Zygote Press earlier this year.
“John’s passion for the visual arts, especially Cleveland art, combined with his skills in management, administration, fundraising, and strategic planning makes him ideally suited to lead the museum into its fourth decade,” says ARTneo’s Board President Joan Brickley. “We’re also very pleased to add Christopher Richards to the team. His knowledge of Cleveland art and the ARTneo collection makes him an invaluable asset to the institution.”
Christopher Richards received his Bachelor’s in Art and Design from LaGrange College, and is currently finishing his thesis on Cleveland Op Art pioneer and former Cleveland Institute of Art professor Edwin Mieczkowski to complete his Master’s in Art History at Kent State. He has curated numerous exhibitions both through ARTneo and independently. He is currently in the process of documenting and digitizing ARTneo’s permanent collection as the ARTneo’s Registrar and Gallery Manager. Previously, he was a freelance arts writer for the Cleveland Independent and a board member of Lakewood is Art. He is also the photographer and art handler at Rachel Davis Fine Arts.
"I am excited to be part of ARTneo,” adds Richards. “There is a great wealth of regional art in Cleveland, and to be able to work on preserving and exhibiting these works is an honor."
ARTneo is in the process of moving from Lakewood’s Beck Center for the Arts to the lower level of 78th Street Studios. The new location is designed specifically for the needs of the organization and will more than triple the space dedicated to the organization’s art collection – much of which is currently on view as part of Cornerstone: 30 Years of Collection Building at Tregoning & Co., also located inside 78th Street Studios.
ARTneo, formerly the Cleveland Artists Foundation, was founded in 1984 by Cleveland-based artists, collectors and patrons. Initially, their mission focused on the Cleveland School, a collection of artists active during the first half of the 20th century. With the recent name change came an expanded focus on local and regional artists working during the last 50 years. By broadening their focus, ARTneo hopes to encourage a more comprehensive narrative of Cleveland’s artistic traditions and innovations, both as they impact and define the region and in relation to current national and international trends.