The morning of Sept. 30, 2016, the Board of Directors of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center announced the hiring of Sam Gappmayer as the new Director of the Sheboygan, WI, arts organization. Gappmayer, who currently serves as President and CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, will assume his new position October 17.
Gappmayer has 27 years of experience heading multidisciplinary arts organizations throughout the United States. Prior to the Peoria Riverfront Museum, he worked as the top executive at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Ketchum, ID. Gappmayer earned a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts from Montana State University.
“I have admired the work of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and Ruth DeYoung Kohler, its longtime Director, for most of my career,” stated Gappmayer. “Vital and relevant programming in multiple artistic disciplines, the unique Arts/Industry program, and the focus on art environment builders sets the Arts Center apart as an important contributor to a healthy arts culture on local, regional, and national levels.”
Ruth DeYoung Kohler served as the Arts Center’s Director since 1972, and in January, she transitioned to the role of Director Emerita and Director of Strategic Initiatives. In 2015, she was honored with the Visionary Award from the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, and she received the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
“I have deep admiration for all that Ruth Kohler, the staff, board and donors have accomplished in building and expanding the reach of the Arts Center over many years and feel honored to become part of this dedicated creative community,” commented Gappmayer. “It is my intention to continue to enhance and extend the mission of this very special institution.”
John Michael Kohler Arts Center Board President Sandra Sachse said, “The board of directors believes that Sam has the skills and experience to continue the unique vision of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center as we go forward into the future. We welcome him and his wife, Ann, to our community.”
In 2017, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center will celebrate its 50th year as a leader in innovative explorations of the arts. Its programming is distinguished by original, thematic exhibitions; cutting-edge music and dance performances; commissions of collaborative community works of art; and a highly respected arts-based preschool. The Arts Center’s anniversary will be celebrated with a yearlong series of exhibitions featuring its world-renowned collection of works by art-environment builders. The Arts Center is also in the planning phase for construction of the Art Preserve, a facility that will provide state-of-the-art storage and display of its extensive collection.
About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center: Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from artists and academics to families and youth of all ages. Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications. The Arts Center’s collections focus primarily on works by vernacular-environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/Industry residency program.
Looking to the future, the Arts Center continues to generate new explorations in the arts that foster creative exchanges between an international community of artists and a diverse public, making real the power of the arts to transform lives and strengthen communities. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is supported by corporate and foundation donors, government grants, and its many members. The Arts Center is not an entity of Kohler Co. or its subsidiaries. More information about the Arts Center can be found at jmkac.org.