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Des Moines Art Center welcomes new assistant curator

Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343
Email: bbsmith@desmoinesartcenter.org

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Des Moines Art Center welcomes new assistant curator 

DES MOINES, IOWA (June 2017) – The Des Moines Art Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Jared Ledesma as its new assistant curator. Ledesma’s first exhibition at the Art Center, I, too, am America, opens this fall, and will feature political and activist art from the 1930s to 2000.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ledesma worked in the painting and sculpture curatorial department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for more than six years; at the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, California; and at the former Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. While at SFMOMA, Ledesma worked extensively with the museum’s permanent collection and on special exhibitions, including the award winning The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde (2011), Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California (2014-15), Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA (2015), Matisse/Diebenkorn (2016-17) and, most recently, Paul Klee and Rex Ray (2017). Ledesma’s art historical training is in 20th-century Modern art, and in Queer art history. His graduate work focused on the contemporary artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, on whom Ledesma has lectured extensively. Ledesma holds both a BA and MA in art history from San Francisco State University.

Ledesma says of his move to Des Moines: “I’ve known about the Des Moines Art Center for quite some time due to its excellent reputation, and I’m excited to be here. I am in the process of exploring the permanent collection, which keeps surprising me with many amazing works of art. On a less formal note, after living in Des Moines for a little more than three months, I can say that it’s a fantastic cosmopolitan city that has plenty to offer. And the people I’ve met so far have been very warm and welcoming, which has made living far from home much easier. I look forward to working with the Art Center’s extraordinary staff, and to meeting members of my new community.”

According to Director Jeff Fleming, “We are thrilled that Jared Ledesma has joined the Art Center’s curatorial team. He will add depth and new approaches to our investigations into the art of our time.” Ledesma was hired as assistant curator after Curator of Prints and Drawings Amy N. Worthen retired from the Art Center after 43 years of service. 

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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