by Callie Enlow
Blue Star's main gallery during last year's Texas Biennial exhibition. Credit: Justin Parr
Yesterday, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum named Mary Heathcott as its latest executive director.
Last spring, Blue Star's longtime executive director, Bill FitzGibbons, announced he'd be stepping down from the role—which he held for about a decade. Steven Evans, the former managing director of New York contemporary art mecca Dia:Beacon who moved to SA for a brief stint at the head of the Pace Foundation, filled in for several months at Blue Star after FitzGibbons' departure. Evans arrived just in time to crisis manage the unwieldy but splashy Texas Biennial show in early fall; it was the first time the Austin-based Biennial gave a San Antonio institution a starring role. However, on November 26, Blue Star and Evans, only hired on a contract basis, announced they would part ways.
Now Heathcott, a young arts professional with more than seven years at Artpace and previous experience at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, will take the reins. Heathcott has proven her own capacity to lead during trying times: As interim managing director at Artpace, she steered the ship after the 2011 departure of former Artpace exec Matthew Drutt and again when Drutt's replacement, Regine Basha, resigned in 2012 for health reasons. Under Heathcott's watch, several memorable Hudson (Show)Room and Window Works exhibits were booked and/or debuted, such as Tony Feher's excellent "Thomas Hoving" and Mas Rudas' playful, provocative Window Works' installation "Brown Style."
Though Artpace named Heathcott Deputy Director in 2012 for her efforts, her experience in development, public relations and curating makes her a particularly worthy candidate to lead the small staff at Blue Star. Her many years at Artpace helped her forge deep connections with several emerging artists already familiar with San Antonio through Artpace's well-known residency program, as well as with a younger set of local patrons. Both experiences will be crucial in re-activating Blue Star as a vibrant cultural destination as the museum has lately suffered for its position inside the Blue Star complex, with its interminable construction and perceived move away from art and toward more commercial tenants.
Evans, meanwhile, has announced he will lead Houston's biennial FotoFest.