The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has announced the election of leading contemporary American artist Ed Ruscha to its Board of Trustees. Ruscha joins the Board at the recommendation of SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra and becomes the fourth artist to serve as counsel to museum leadership from the artist’s perspective. Artists who have previously served on the Board include designer Yves Béhar (2010 to 2013), photographer Larry Sultan (2009 until his death later that year), and painter Robert Bechtle (2006 to 2009).
SFMOMA maintains one board seat for artists—who are elected for a fixed term of three years and recommended by the director—to represent key areas of museum programming as well as the wider artist community.
“SFMOMA hosted Ed Ruscha’s first major museum retrospective in 1982 and we now hold his work in great depth,” says Benezra. “Given his long history with SFMOMA and his exceptional knowledge of and great influence in the art world, his input will be invaluable as we dramatically expand to become an international showcase for the best in contemporary culture.”
Of his appointment, Ruscha says, “Assuming a role on SFMOMA’s board at this vital time in the institution’s history promises to be an exceptionally rewarding experience. I look forward to collaborating closely with Neal, SFMOMA’s patron community, and its superb staff, whose dedication to fulfilling the museum’s potential is to be admired.”
SFMOMA has also welcomed eight additional cultural and civic leaders to its Board over the past year and a half, including Alka Agrawal, Joachim Bechtle, Adam H. Clammer, Ann C. Fisher, Jonathan Gans, Christine E. Lamond, David Morin, and Daniel H. Rimer. Along with a shared dedication to art as collectors and enthusiasts, the new trustees widen the range of expertise on the board, and they join SFMOMA at a dynamic time as the museum begins construction on its major expansion project.
SFMOMA’s trustees are advocates for the museum within the larger community, seeking out opportunities to expand audiences and contributing to the institution’s stability and vitality while sharing a long-term vision to ensure its excellence. A complete list of SFMOMA’s Board is available online.
Ed Ruscha Named SFMOMA’s Fourth Artist Trustee
Born and raised in the Midwest (first Omaha and later Oklahoma City), Ruscha took a road trip westward in the mid-1950s and landed in Los Angeles, where he studied at the California Institute of the Arts and also trained as a commercial graphic artist. Upon graduation, he took a job as a designer of billboards and posters, immersing himself in the language of advertising, popular culture, and machine-made images. He pulled elements from this mass-media vernacular to create his famous “word” paintings, which combine typography with abstract, atmospheric backgrounds. By the 1960s and 1970s, his well-known images of the Twentieth Century Fox logo, gas stations, and other icons of American culture—as well as his association with the renowned Ferus Gallery group—had established him a leader in the West Coast Pop art movement.
Since then, Ruscha has continued to explore language and urban experience through painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, and film. He lives and works in Los Angeles, and is represented by Gagosian Gallery in New York, Beverly Hills, and London.
In the early days of his varied artistic practice, Ruscha also produced a number of extraordinary artist’s books, most often based on his photographic explorations of the Southern California landscape, both natural and constructed. Before he achieved great recognition for his paintings, his artistic identity was sustained largely through these books, which have proved to be highly influential works of conceptual art. Along with more than 18 important examples of Ruscha’s paintings and works on paper in its holdings, as well as a portfolio of 142 photographs from his Then and Now series, SFMOMA is one of the very few museums in the world with an entire collection of Ruscha’s historically significant artist books.
Over the years, Ruscha has been the subject of numerous major presentations worldwide, including his first museum retrospective in 1982 at SFMOMA, followed by important exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989; the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 1998; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2000 (curated by Neal Benezra); the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005; the Jeu de Paume in 2006; London’s Hayward Gallery in 2009; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Hammer Museum in 2011; and the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, in 2012. Current exhibitions include Ed Ruscha: Bücher und Bilder at Museum Brandhorst in Munich and Ed Ruscha: Los Angeles Apartments at Kunstmuseum Basel.
Other Business and Cultural Leaders Bolster Board
Alka Agrawal, former director of the Patricia Faure Gallery in Los Angeles, is an active SFMOMA supporter and has served in numerous capacities among the museum’s art interest groups. Most recently, Agrawal was the 2013 Art Auction chair, the 2011 Bay Area Treasure Award chair, and co-chair of the 2010 SECA Art Awards in its 50th anniversary year. She and her husband Ravin first joined SFMOMA in 2004, and they are Director’s Circle and Collectors Forum members. The Agrawals have collected contemporary art since they graduated from college, and their growing collection now encompasses works by artists around the globe, such as Walead Beshty, Jitish Kallat, Marilyn Minter, Dave Muller, Yinka Shonibare, and Pae White, in addition to Bay Area artists such as Rosana Castrillo-Díaz, Sean McFarland, and Conrad Ruiz.
Joachim Bechtle is an author and former managing partner and president of the management consulting firm J.R. Bechtle & Company. He previously served as president of the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Western United States. Bechtle and his wife Nancy have been SFMOMA members since 1988, involved in Director’s Circle, Main Accessions, Collectors Forum, and Collectors Forum Accessions. He has also served on the board of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.
Adam H. Clammer is a senior advisor and former head of the Global Technology Group at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., a private equity group where he has worked for 18 years. He also serves on the board of Go Daddy, the internet’s largest hosting and domain registration provider. Clammer has supported SFMOMA for nearly 10 years and is currently a Director’s Circle member with his wife, Kate Harbin-Clammer. They were members of the 2011 SF20 Honorary Committee, and Harbin-Clammer recently served on the 2012 Modern Ball Committee.
Ann C. Fisher has been active in the San Francisco fundraising community for many years, serving on the boards of the San Francisco Ballet, the Junior League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Volunteer Bureau, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She also founded and served as president of the Learning Disabilities Association of San Francisco/Marin Counties. A member of SFMOMA since 1981, she most recently chaired the 2013 Director’s Circle dinner, served as the president of Collectors Forum from 2009 to 2011, and was Modern Art Council president from 2001 to 2002.
Jonathan Gans is chief executive officer and president of Ironwood Capital Management, a San Francisco–based investment firm where he is responsible for all aspects of the company’s operations as general partner and advisor of Ironwood investment funds. He earned a BA cum laude from Williams College and a JD from UCLA School of Law. Gans and his wife, architect Abigail Turin, are avid collectors with a focus on painting and design, collecting contemporary masters and emerging artists alike.
Christine E. Lamond is an active community volunteer and philanthropist, serving on the boards of the San Francisco Symphony, UCSF Foundation, and Council for the Arts at MIT. Lamond and her husband Pierre have been members of SFMOMA’s Director’s Circle for more than 25 years and are currently Collectors Forum members. They collect modern art, with a special interest in contemporary British artists, such as Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, and David Hockney.
David Morin is an entrepreneur and a pioneer in social networking for mobile applications. In 2010, he joined Napster founder Shawn Fanning to create Path, the modern journal that helps people stay connected with family and close friends. He is currently CEO. Prior to co-founding Path, Morin worked in marketing and design at Apple. He then became an early member of the Facebook team. Morin was recognized as one of “30 under 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs” by Bloomberg BusinessWeek in 2011, received a TechFellow Award by TechCrunch and Founders Fund in 2010, and was named among the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company in 2009.
Daniel H. Rimer is a partner at the venture capital investment company Index Ventures, and his investment interests include Internet infrastructure software and services. He currently serves on a number of boards including Etsy, Factual, Flipboard, First Dibs, Nasty Gal, Rightscale, Sky (BSY), and Viagogo. Rimer and his wife Manizeh joined SFMOMA in 1994 and are recent members of the museum’s Director’s Circle. Their collection encompasses realist and contemporary paintings and photography.