« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

John Lamb, Published December 14 2011

Rourke names new museum director

MOORHEAD – After a national search, Moorhead’s Rourke Art Museum and Gallery hired someone with roots on the other side of the Red River as its new executive director.

Fargo native Tania Blanich takes over Jan. 3, 10 months after the organization’s founder and previous director, James O’Rourke, died.

“I am thrilled,” she said Wednesday. “To get to go home to a job that would be great anywhere is really special. How exciting with all the growth in Fargo and demographic changes to reach a broader and more diverse audience.”

Blanich moves back from Lexington, Ky., where she was the chief operating officer of LexArts, the arts council and fund for the arts in Lexington. She officially finished the job last week but was still tying up loose ends Wednesday.

Her work background is in arts, nonprofits and government administration.

Brian Gramer, president of the Rourke, said her experience in grant writing and knowledge of other aid and funds was appealing, as was her involvement in the art world.

“To get someone with her experience level is a stroke of luck,” Gramer said. “James O’Rourke must’ve been up above looking down and helping with the process.”

Blanich has been involved in film, video and new-media exhibits, curating shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She said she’d be interested in bringing art like that to the Rourke.

Gramer said patrons won’t see visible changes to the organization and that the plan is to keep both the Rourke Art Museum at 521 Main Ave. and the Rourke Art Gallery at 523 4th St. S., Moorhead, open as O’Rourke intended.

Blanich said her first priority is to get a grip on the roughly 4,500 pieces the museum own and put some on display.

“It’s a great collection, and it should be seen,” she said.

Blanich’s mother, Beverly Halbeisen Blanich, still lives in Fargo.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533