Local Arts

Bechtler Museum, curator Edwards part ways

Jennifer Sudul Edwards
Jennifer Sudul Edwards Observer file photo

The Bechtler Museum of Art’s president and CEO John Boyer said Tuesday that curator Jennifer Sudul Edwards is no longer with the museum.

Edwards confirmed she and the museum have parted ways and declined to comment further.

“We’re grateful for the time we had her here,” said Boyer. “The best way to describe this is that this is the way things turn out sometimes.”

Boyer went on to say staff would post a job description Wednesday on the website and in “other traditional venues.” Asked whether the curator’s duties would stay defined as they currently are, he said, “We’d like to keep the position as it was originally proposed back in the day. The real focus for the museum is on our collection, and there’s a great deal of research and writing to do – and this has always been the case ... the research, the writing, and the exhibitions, focusing on our core collection.”

Edwards came to the Bechtler in 2015, becoming the museum’s second curator – some five years after the first, Michael Godfrey, died suddenly in 2010, the year the museum opened. She arrived as an expert on Niki de Saint Phalle (creator of the museum’s, and some would argue now the city’s, signature sculpture, “Firebird”), on whom she did her doctoral dissertation at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She’d held curatorial positions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Norton Simon Museum before coming to Charlotte. Here, she became part of the city’s arts fabric in a variety of ways, including collaborating on the Sphere Series of art history socials/lectures. She curated a dozen exhibitions at the Bechtler; “Wrestling the Angel” is currently on view.

The change adds the Bechtler to a list of arts institutions with recent significant changes or losses: The McColl Center has not hired an artistic director since Nicole Caruth left in December 2017; the Gantt Center has not hired a creative director since the departure of Jessica Moss in the same year, and the Mint Museum named a new president and CEO in July a search of more than a year, and the Mint’s assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, Adam Justice, left last month to become director of galleries at UNC Charlotte Center City.