I can’t think of many moments in my life when I’ve been simultaneously sad and excited. Such is the case this week as I prepare to leave my current job as Gallery Director at NIAD Art Center after 5 years. Two weeks ago I accepted a job offer from the San Francisco Brewers Guild to become their first Executive Director. On September 10th I’ll be moving from the art world to the craft beer industry.
When I moved to San Francisco five years ago, a career in beer wasn’t part of the plan. I found a great job at NIAD Art Center, which is filled with amazing art and people. As Gallery Director I was able to employ the skills and knowledge acquired through my art education. I felt really lucky to have the opportunity and threw myself into the job. There were certainly bumps along the way, but I slowly accomplished my goals and witnessed many improvements thanks to the staff, talented artists, donors, gallerists, independent curators and my efforts. There were major building improvements, groundbreaking exhibits, and good sales despite a weak economy during most of my tenure, just to name a few things. I’m happy with what I achieved and NIAD’s future is bright.
My transition to a job in the beer industry, unbeknownst to me at the time, began back in January of 2010. That’s when I decided to take a break from making art. I was burned out and frustrated with my artwork, so I switched to photography, started beer blogging, planned an event for SF Beer Week 2011, and volunteered with the San Francisco Brewers Guild, all as a diversion. Although I wasn’t painting or drawing, I was still being creative in what I perceive to be a creative industry. Most importantly, I was very happy.
The open and friendly nature of the craft beer community also drew me in at the same time, and still does. The brewers, beer fans and fellow bloggers I’ve met, have been incredibly welcoming, willing to share insights, ideas and helped open doors to new experiences and opportunities. In the commercial art world, this wasn’t always the case as I tried to find a place for my work as an artist.
Two months ago a member of the San Francisco Brewers Guild approached me about the Executive Director position. At the time he was simply gauging my interest and finding out what it would take for me come on board. That’s when I started to think a little harder about my future at NIAD and what it would mean for me personally if I left. All kinds of scenarios crossed my mind. In the end, after seeing great change at NIAD over 5 years, the opportunity with the Guild was too enticing of a challenge to turn down.
As Executive Director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild I have the opportunity to take the organization to the next level in partnership with the Executive Committee and the member breweries. I’ll be responsible for public and government relations, event planning, marketing, and I’ll implement a strategic plan that will garner more local and national attention for the Guild, while gaining new experiences, knowledge and skills. I’m excited to see what happens on this new adventure.
For those of you who have known me personally over many years, family and friends in particular, let me make one thing clear about this transition. I’m not divorcing art. My art education and prior work defines who I am, shapes my perception, and creativity is always at the forefront of what I do. I’ll simply be applying it to a new industry and I suspect there’s a very good chance I’ll make art again, painting, drawing or something else, in time, under new circumstances and on different terms for the better.