Chana Budgazad Sheldon: Directing Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
After two years without a permanent executive director, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami [MOCA] welcomed Chana Budgazad Sheldon this year. She brings almost two decades of experience in the arts to MOCA.
Ms. Budgazad Sheldon began her career working at Casey Kaplan, a commercial art gallery in New York, where she spent eight years working directly with artists to help grow their careers. Eventually, she became director of the gallery.
In 2009, she moved to Miami to work in a more unconventional space, running Locust Projects in Miami, a not-for-profit, artist-run space where artists can experiment with their work outside of the conventional pressure of exhibition spaces.
After about eight years working with Locust Projects, Ms. Budgazad Sheldon kick-started the Miami branch of ProjectArt, which connects artists with public library residencies where they teach free after-school art classes to children while developing their own new artwork in the libraries.
Her experience building community programs and her direct collaboration with artists will be coming with her to MOCA, Ms. Budgazad Sheldon says. In fact, community programs are the cornerstone of MOCA, and she is looking for creative ways to bring back old programs and expand upon them, she says.
The biggest challenge thus far has been navigating the unknown, Ms. Budgazad Sheldon says, as MOCA has been without a permanent executive director for some time.
This first year is all about listening, she says: “We want to understand what the needs are in the community and what best gaps we can fill in the region. We want to show the best art, in whatever form it takes.”
Ms. Budgazad Sheldon is committed to taking her time and doing things “the right way.” Over the next year, she will be defining with her team the direction the museum is to take. Though MOCA has been using independent curators in the past, it is to announce an in-house curator by year’s end, she hopes.
Ms. Budgazad Sheldon is also looking to expand the Board of Directors.
The museum’s position in North Miami is critical to its mission, and to its success, she says. The diverse population serves as the ideal backdrop for the space, as MOCA aims to make contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences and underserved populations.
Admission to the museum is only $5, and free for residents of North Miami.
MOCA is located in a rare, walkable area in Miami, in North Miami’s “town center,” Ms. Budgazad Sheldon says. Not only does it offer a daily after-school program for high school students, but it’s a popular and accessible option, as they can walk directly to the museum once school gets out, and the museum is conveniently located near the public library.
MOCA has been a fixture in the North Miami community for 35 years and Ms. Budgazad Sheldon says its history growing alongside the community keeps people coming back. MOCA has historically hosted provocative and innovative exhibitions in its space, a tradition Ms. Budgazad Sheldon hopes to continue to expand upon.
Miami Today reporter Gabi Maspons interviewed Ms. Budgazad Sheldon at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. The interview was recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle, and can be found Friday at http://bit.ly/2uNHy0Q.
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