We sit down with MaryAnn Deffenbaugh upon her appointment as the new Executive Director at Converge 45.
As Executive Director, Deffenbaugh will focus on cultural partnerships and development, raising the funds necessary to support additional cycles of three-year curatorial programming. As Converge 45 meets its goals, Deffenbaugh will continue the organization’s mission of catalyzing the region’s contemporary arts through exhibitions, conversations and events.
What attracted you to accepting this position at Converge 45?
The visual arts community is so much more than 1st Thursday. When the art walk was first organized 30 plus years ago by Bob Kochs (Augen Gallery) and the deceased gallerist William Jamison, Portland and the Pacific NW was a much smaller place. Now that the City is on global radar as a destination and a growing metropolis, we must expand through conversation, collaboration and creative capital for a higher ranking on the national and international art stages. As an active participant in the regional arts community for many years, I have been following Converge 45 since its inception and believe it is the vehicle to coalesce arts energy, amplify civic pride, boost cultural tourism and attract creative talents and businesses.
What will you be overseeing in your role as Executive Director?
After three successful years with the artistic leadership of curator Kristy Edmunds and the dedication of a strong board, it is time for a part-time executive director to support the growth and long-term success of the organization. I look forward to the honor of working with curator Lisa Dent as the guest Artistic Director for the next three-year cycle at Converge 45. And, I am excited to collaborate with this creative, courageous and visionary board to perpetuate the mission and raise the necessary funds to support many more curatorial cycles of Converge 45.
What is your vision for the future of Converge 45?
Converge 45 is a coordinated effort to amplify the region’s cultural landscape and enrich existing and new dialogues and offerings. We are creating and refining a Pacific NW model with components inspired by others such as Documenta in Kassel, Germany, Site Santa Fe, the Prospect Triennial in New Orleans or Front International in Cleveland. The unique, dynamic structure of Converge 45 comprises three years: one, of engagement (bringing name artists and curators to engage in dialogue), two, a year of collaborative exhibitions (with local cultural partners) and a third year of a highly visible solo work (such as the Ann Hamilton installation in 2018). This is a fit for Portland, the state and the region. Converge 45 is art at the 45th parallel and most assuredly will evolve as connections are made, outreach expands and as recognition spreads. In the words of curator Nato Thompson, “Portland is poised to see itself in a new light by way of the profound power of art. It’s a dream worth pursuing.”