Four years ago, when Sandra Jackson-Dumont was working at the Studio Museum in Harlem, she received a call from then-director Mimi Gates at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Gates was looking to fill a deputy director position for community outreach at SAM. “I recommended several people,” Jackson-Dumont recalls. “Then she called back for me.” Just before the opening of the Olympic Sculpture Park, Jackson-Dumont moved to Seattle and became deputy director of education and public programs/adjunct curator. It’s a title that weighs down a business card, but she summarizes it tidily: “My job is curating experiences.”
While she curates all manner of experiences at SAM (special programs drew 110,000 people last year), Jackson-Dumont’s most resounding programmatic success has been Remix—the arty party targeting the 18- to 35-year-old set that takes place throughout the galleries after hours. Under her watch it has bloomed from a cocktail party with a DJ to a multifaceted, multihour gala that draws a line around the block (around 3,000 people per event). But Remix isn’t just about being the hippest party in town. There’s also a “covert curriculum,” Jackson-Dumont reveals. “There has to be both intellectual stimulation and a major social component,” she explains. “So the beautiful people are there, partying, and then midway through the event, they’re making art or interacting with a local artist.” The goal is to use Remix as a gateway to SAM’s other offerings—performances, talks and the art itself.
The same goes for last summer’s inaugural “Get Out” series in the sculpture park, which Jackson-Dumont developed with a “fearless, go-for-it” team. Thousands of Seattleites came for the weekly farmers’ market, live local music, dance lessons and outdoor yoga (which drew upward of 100 people per class). Such successes “have created a great moment in the city,” she says. “It’s completely energizing.”
Published November 2010
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