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Kristin Guiter, the vice president for communications and marketing at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, has resigned, she says. The move comes at the end of a week that began with news that her museum was contemplating a move from its 115-year-old home at 17th Street and New York Avenue NW.
Guiter’s career at the Corcoran has been bracketed by two of the more contentious moments in the museum’s history. She began working in the museum’s press office in late 2006, after the institution failed to build a Frank Gehry addition. That year saw Paul Greenhalgh begin his brief tenure as director by letting go three curators and two museum department heads. The present crisis is a byproduct of the Corcoran’s significant financial challenges: It currently faces a
projected $7.2 million budget deficit.
In between a rock and a hard place, however, Guiter has nevertheless had a visible impact on the culture of the museum. She is one of the longest-serving employees in an organization that has seen high turnover under the administrations of Greenhalgh and the current director, Fred Bollerer. Along with fellow Corcoran communications staffers Rachel Cothran and Melanie Kimmelman, Guiter has served as a fashionable public face for the museum. Over the last few years, the Corcoran has increasingly courted the coveted young-single-professionals cohort, through its Corcoran Contemporaries and 1869 Society membership organizations as well as its “Now” and “Next” contemporary art programs. Of those four initiatives, all but the 1869 Society were Guiter’s projects.
Guiter has not announced her immediate plans. Today is her last day in the office.
Working on little sleep, Guiter appeared last night at Civilian Art Projects for a community meeting, where 45 or so Corcoran supporters met to brainstorm ways to “save the Corcoran.” Guiter said she was there to speak on behalf of the museum, and that she “loves, loves, loves the Corcoran.”
That meeting hit some familiar notes. Tom Pullin, a Corcoran senior studying fine-art photography, suggested an ironic bake sale, or a car wash. (Art-school kids can’t turn it off.) Muriel Hasbun, chair of the photography department, said that Corcoran College of Art+Design staff and faculty have been asked to work the phones to assure incoming Corcoran freshmen that the situation is OK. Hasbun solicited the Corcoran staffers, alumni, and supporters in the room for help with the effort. (Corcoran alum and master’s student Jacqueline Ionita, who is the gallery director at Hamiltonian Gallery, asked, “But what is our message?”)
One thing the group largely agreed on: The group needed more information from the Corcoran board and leadership. But it was Roberta Faul-Zeitler, a former Corcoran press director, and not Guiter, who did most of the talking last night. Guiter did provide the single concrete development to flow from the meeting: Starting next week, the Corcoran will hold public meetings about these developments. Guiter, however, won’t be participating in them.
Photo by John Edmunds