Arts Center bids farewell to manager, plans for future

Feb. 16, 2011

The Arts are often either listed as "in decline" or "under-appreciated" in many national reports. But the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River has bucked much of the gloomy trend.

In its lifetime, CCA has continued increasing both its community presence and its arts promotion activities to a demonstratively grateful community. This is, in no small part, due to a small but dedicated staff and many supportive volunteers.

Catherine Kiewit, gallery manager for the arts center for the last five years, has been an integral part of the organization's success. But, like any good thing, her tenure at CCA is about to come to an end.

Kiewit recently announced her planned departure date of May 6, to begin a new undertaking. Kiewit is expecting her first child with husband Joe.

"I plan to be a full-time parent once the baby arrives and so I am going to retire as the art center gallery manager," Kiewit said.

According to CCA Executive Director Joanie Thomson, "Catherine has been a significant force in raising the bar of quality for our gallery shows and artist representation."

Thompson also notes that since the opening of the permanent facility on Cascade Avenue, CCA has become the "poster child for an arts organization success story at the state level." Success in the gallery has supported that overall winning model.

"Catherine exemplified a person who can take an idea and run with it. She will really be missed here," Thomson added. Kiewit has also played a key role in keeping the 200-plus community volunteers actively involved in center operations.

"I am truly thankful for the experience and will leave incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve this community in the way that I have," Kiewit said.

Following her departure from CCA, Kiewit notes that she will continue to serve on city council in Bingen and will "look forward to attending First Fridays in the future as a guest."

Ironically, coinciding with Kiewit's leave, CCA will be conducting a month-long "five-year anniversary celebration" honoring the move into the permanent facility while sharing their appreciation for committed patrons.

In an effort to give back to and engage the community, CCA hopes to expand awareness and access to the programs available at the center.

Beginning with the First Friday kick-off event on June 3, CCA will present "Get Centered," a month of arts programming offered for no cost.

Free events will include: two CAST performances of vignettes from past productions, a local film maker night, a concert, book reading, theater reading and writer's workshop and a variety of art classes for both youth and adults.

The art center is now seeking a permanent replacement for Kiewit in the gallery, with a plan to hire in March for an April start, allowing one month of overlap with Kiewit for training.

A job description is posted on the Center's website at http://www.columbiaarts.org/ or contact Thomson at director@columbiaarts.org. Deadline is Feb. 21.

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