Dec. 16, 2004

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Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858; or Professor Charles Eldredge, History of Art, (785) 864-4713.

KU names nationally known Salina Art Center director to lead KU art museum

LAWRENCE -- A national expert in the visual arts with deep roots in Kansas and at the University of Kansas has been named the new director of KU’s Spencer Museum of Art, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger announced today.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Salina Art Center and former director of museums and visual arts at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., will begin her new position March 14, 2005. She will succeed interim director Fred Pawlicki.

" There is a remarkable degree of unanimity and enthusiasm among members of the university community about Saralyn Hardy’s appointment,” Shulenburger said. “The Spencer is one of the nation’s finest university museums; Saralyn’s tenure at the National Endowment for the Arts makes me confident that she will advance the Spencer’s reputation and will ensure that the riches of our museum will become better known across the state and world.”

It is a homecoming for Hardy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in integrated arts in 1976 and a master’s degree in American studies in 1994 at KU, and who worked as a project coordinator at the Spencer from 1977 to 1979. The Reece family also has a long relationship with KU dating back to her grandmother Nelle Taylor Dyatt, who graduated in 1909 with the first class of KU nursing students, and includes her parents, her husband, three sisters and three sons.

" I look forward to being part of the university and the Spencer Museum of Art,” Hardy said. “Engagement with art and artists transforms individuals, communities and societies. I believe this museum and its collections can be a creative connective force across this campus and among diverse disciplines. I am eager to collaborate with the extraordinary ensemble of scholars resident on this campus."

Except for the three-year appointment at the NEA from 1999 to 2002, Hardy has led the nationally known Salina Art Center since 1986, overseeing the growth of the center from a small community gallery to a contemporary art center with a national and international exhibition schedule, an education program, a youth art interactive area and a film program. The center, which attracts more than 40,000 visitors annually, captured attention earlier this year for receiving a major initiative grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation as well as a donated warehouse to be an artist live/work space and an alternative education facility. Under her leadership, the center also has expanded its facilities and established an endowment.

At the NEA, Hardy was the chief museum and visual arts expert. She reviewed proposals from the field, selected expert peer panels, proposed funding amounts and presented grant recommendations to the National Council for the Arts. Hardy also has been active on the national art scene through her professional activities with the Getty Leadership Institute advisory committee, American Federation of Arts museum directors' program, American Association of Museums, Museum Trustee Association, Museum Loan Network Advisory Panel and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. She also served on the NEA’s Creation & Presentation panel for Visual Arts.

“ I have watched, with wonder and delight, her outstanding performance at the national level,” said Karen Christensen, former deputy chair for grants and awards of the NEA and currently an art consultant in Arizona. “[Saralyn’s] performance at the NEA was, in a word, stellar.”

Christensen also lauded Hardy’s work in Salina, saying the art center was “clearly among the most innovative in the country for visual arts organizations.… Saralyn was able to build a strong base of financial support for cutting-edge contemporary art in a relatively small town, which is very unusual.”

Hardy has received the NEA’s 2001 Distinguished Service Award, the 1995 Kansas Governor’s Art Award for arts advocate and the Women of Achievement award for nonprofit leadership from the Salina YWCA.
“ This is a wonderful opportunity for her and, at the same time, brings honor to the Art Center,” said Father Frank Coady, chair of the Salina Art Center board of directors. “Saralyn has been an important player in the Art Center's developing a national reputation, and she leaves the center with a strong board, a competent staff and fiscal strength. I am certain that she will benefit the Spencer as well.”

Shulenburger thanked Pawlicki for doing “an exceptional job” as interim director since March.
“ Far from being a placeholder, Fred has demonstrated the same energy and ingenuity in furthering the aims of the Spencer as he has done at the Lied Center,” Shulenburger said. “We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude."

With more than 25,000 catalogued items of art in all media from the United States, Europe and Asia, the Spencer museum is one of the major university art collections in North America. The museum includes 22,473 square feet of exhibition space and houses the Kress Foundation Department of Art History and the 150,000-volume Murphy Art and Architecture Library. Hardy will be the fourth director of the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art since it opened its doors Jan. 17, 1978. More than 100,000 people visit the museum every year.

The Reece family’s long relationship with KU, in addition to Hardy’s grandmother, includes great-aunt Mabel Alice Taylor, a 1912 KU graduate, and Hardy’s parents, former Republican national committeewoman Marynell and contractor Harry William “Bill” Reece of Scandia, 1942 and 1941 KU graduates, respectively.

Hardy’s husband, Randall, graduated from KU in 1976 and son Stephen followed in 2000. Her son Thomas is now attending, as did her son William. Her sisters are all KU graduates: Deanell Reece Tacha, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit; Mary Lou Reece, president of Reece Construction, now of Wichita; and speech pathologist Jane Ann Reece Ewy of Salina.


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