Barb Whitney has been program manager at the Lansing Art Gallery since last year and has been involved with the gallery for eight years. As program manager and an artist herself, Whitney knows both sides of the art business. She takes pride in her work at the gallery, especially with the established and innovative education programs they offer.
Q: How long have you been with the Lansing Art Gallery? How did you get started?
A: This is my eighth year at the gallery. I had recently relocated to the Lansing area in 2004 and stopped by the gallery just on a whim. I inquired about whether they had any openings in education. I had been teaching an art program in Detroit and had been thinking along those lines when I stopped in. At that time they had an opening for gallery shop manager. I was hired in and then became the program manager a year ago.
Q: What are you duties as program manager?
A: On any given day, I might work with patrons promoting the artwork from Michigan artists. I handle the artwork itself and work with the artists on the jury process. We work with professional jurors to assess the works and decide whether the pieces are accepted for our gallery. In addition to working with artists and patrons, I have the joy of assisting with the implementation of our education programs. Some of them are (more than) 25 years old like our high school competition and some of them are brand new. So it’s a nice mix of established programs and new, innovative ones. We’re constantly looking at evolving the programs we’ve had for a number of years.
It’s fun. It’s a wonderful position. The gallery’s mission is creating an awareness, education and enjoyment of the visual arts by promoting the works of Michigan artists. So it’s just a joy. There’s a whole lot of fun in promoting their work. One of the most engaging things about art is the sense of accomplishment when it’s exhibited.
Q: How do you feel about the Lansing art scene?
A: One of the things I enjoy most about being a part of Lansing’s art community through Lansing Art Gallery is the innovative projects the gallery has been implementing over the past few years. To see artists from all over the state apply to programs and have reproductions made that takes the work out of just the gallery setting and brings it to the people who might not otherwise come into the gallery and be exposed to what we do. On a more personal level, as an artist I’ve enjoyed being a part of the community through different events partly because it’s so warm and welcoming. I feel like my work has been well received and appreciated