Katzen Center appoints curator

Katzen Arts Center gained a director earlier this week when College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kay Mussell appointed AU alumnus and arts curator Jack Rasmussen after a three-month search.

"[Rasmussen] has a great deal of experience in the art world," Mussell said. "He's run his own gallery in D.C., directed the Maryland Art Place, and is [now a] director of di Rosa Preserve. He's got the kind of experience we need to make the gallery an exciting place."

Rasmussen's responsibilities will include scheduling and coordinating exhibits and programs with students and faculty, as well as working with the local arts community.

Rasmussen will leave his current position as a director at di Rosa Preserve in Napa, Calif., which is an 217-acre art museum and nature preserve that displays more than 2,000 works by 800 artists.

Rasmussen said he's excited to return to AU, where he has earned three master's degrees.

"I'm thrilled about [working at AU again]. I've spent a lot of time there in every capacity," Rasmussen said in a phone interview. "My first love was political science, then I figured out that political science is a corrupted art form. From there I went to an uncorrupted art form."

Rasmussen earned a bachelor's degree in art from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., before coming to AU. At AU he earned three master's degrees over the course of several decades - one in painting ('74), arts management ('83) and anthropology ('91), as well as a doctorate in anthropological linguistics ('94).

Rasmussen began his first job at AU's Watkins Art Gallery as a gallery assistant in 1974 and secured a major gift to the art gallery from AU alumna Helen Palmer Kettler.

Rasmussen's professional career includes working as a part-time curator at the National Gallery of Art and an assistant director of the Washington Project for the Arts. He also owned and operated the Jack Rasmussen Gallery in downtown D.C. between 1978 and 1983.

In the early '90s, Rasmussen served as an associate director of development at AU. In suburban Maryland, he helped design, open and operate the nonprofit Rockville Arts Place. Upon leaving that job, he worked as an executive director of the nonprofit Maryland Art Place in Baltimore before spending a couple of years as director at the di Rosa Preserve.

Rasmussen will assume his new position by mid-December. The arts center will open near the end of the spring semester.

"I plan to make it the arts center of the cultural world," Rasmussen said. "I plan to have fun and surprise people ... [basically] shock and awe"

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