Hesse McGraw appointed Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs

Hesse McGraw appointed Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs

San Francisco Art Institute

Hesse McGraw. Photo: Vera Mercer.

June 7, 2013

Hesse McGraw appointed
Vice President for Exhibitions
and Public Programs

San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133


The San Francisco Art Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Hesse McGraw as the new Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs. A curator and writer, Hesse comes to SFAI from the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, where he has been Chief Curator since 2008. He will begin his new role at SFAI on Monday, June 17.

This appointment signals SFAI’s commitment to strengthening the Institute’s community engagement through exhibitions and programs that provide compelling experiences for students, faculty, the art world, and the general public. McGraw will oversee the Institute’s Walter and McBean Galleries, which have been a premier space for the exhibition of contemporary art since 1969, as well as lecture series, public programs, and community education programs for youths and adults.

Stated SFAI President Charles Desmarais: “Hesse has developed remarkable programming at Bemis—pushing the boundaries of contemporary exhibition-making while engaging broad audiences—and his innovative thinking, resourcefulness, and sly humor will surely find an exciting outlet in the service of SFAI’s community.”

McGraw’s notable accomplishments at the Bemis Center include working with artist and cultural planner Theaster Gates and Rebuild Foundation to renovate Carver Bank—the site of the first African American-owned bank in Omaha—into exhibition and performance spaces and artist studios, making the site a hub for the creative and public life of its neighborhood and community. He also developed Michael Jones McKean’s site-specific project The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms, which produced rainbows in the sky over the Bemis Center through an integrated, sustainable system of harvesting and projecting rainwater.

Of his new position, McGraw remarked: “Anyone who went to art school knows it is the best place on earth, and the San Francisco Art Institute has helped define the cultural landscape of America’s most beautiful city for well over 100 years. It is a tremendous honor to join the team at SFAI—I cannot imagine a greater role than developing exhibitions, public programs, and community engagement for an institution, and a city, known for restless experimentation, risk, and the implicit trust of artists.”

Prior to his work at the Bemis Center, McGraw served as associate director at Max Protetch in New York City. From 2002 through 2005 he served as the founding director and curator of Paragraph, a contemporary art gallery operating under the non-profit Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. McGraw holds a BFA from the University of Kansas, and completed graduate research at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His recent honors include an Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Research Fellowship, an ArtPlace America grant, an inaugural Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant, an NEA Our Town grant, multiple American Institute of Architects awards, and a Harpo Foundation Grant.

San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), a nonprofit art institution, is a vital convening place for arts communities and an international leader in fine arts education. A small school with global impact—notable faculty and alumni include Richard Diebenkorn, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Enrique Chagoya, Kathryn Bigelow, Peter Pau, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Catherine Opie, Lance Acord, Barry McGee, and Kehinde Wiley—SFAI enrolls approximately 650 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, and offers extensive continuing education courses and public programs. The Walter and McBean Galleries at SFAI’s historic Russian Hill campus house exhibitions, workshops, and other alternative and experimental avenues for presenting work by international contemporary artists.

SFAI appoints Hesse McGraw as Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs
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June 7, 2013

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