Kansas City, Kan., native Caleb Fey, who spent summers in Helena during his childhood, was named as the new executive director of the Holter Museum of Art on Monday.
His contract begins Dec. 1, just in time for the Holter’s celebration of its 25th anniversary on Dec. 14.
“It was just so nice to be back there and meet the community,” said Fey in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “It just reaffirmed my love of Helena.”
He has fond memories, he said, of escaping hot, humid Kansas City summers to fish in Montana rivers and camp with his father.
Fey, who is currently the director of membership and alumni relations at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., brings to his new position 12 years of experience as a curator, educator and a community arts organizer.
“I’m very pleased Caleb Fey is joining the Holter organization,” said Holter board chairwoman Madalyn Quinlan. “He brings a strong understanding of a community arts organization and the benefits it provides, strong fundraising skills and strong networking skills with artists across the country. We were very impressed with him and are very much looking forward to his arrival.”
Board vice chairman Tim Warner praised Fey’s business acumen, management skills and fundraising record, saying, “I think we will welcome him with open arms.”
Fey is also skilled at cooperating and collaborating with local businesses.
He will be the Holter’s sixth director in seven years, according to Quinlan.
The museum’s current director, Karen Bohlinger, stepped in on an interim basis in September 2011, shortly after the board chose not to renew the contract of previous executive director Chris Taylor after one year on the job.
The board did a national search for a new director, receiving 26 applications that were narrowed down to three finalists. They visited Helena for interviews, gave community presentations and met with the arts community.
“We have listened to the community and are confident that Caleb Fey will bring the stability, fundraising ability and management prowess to the Holter that is essential to build on the more than 25 years of success of the Holter Museum of Art,” states the board’s press release.
Fey, who is a photographer and painter, earned a B.F.A. from the Corcoran in photography in 1996 and an M.F.A. from Yale University in photography in 1999.
In his current job at the Corcoran, he is credited with growing the alumni association membership 275 percent.
He recently spearheaded a fundraising drive on Facebook that raised $80,000 for the acquisition of a new painting as a special gift from the alumni association to the Corcoran’s permanent collection.
Previously, Fey designed an innovative Healing Arts Program in Kansas City that brought over 500 art objects, as well as music and theatrical performances into hospital lobbies and waiting rooms at Truman Medical Centers.
The program has been used as a model by other hospitals across the country, according to Fey.
It started out with a $15,000 investment and grew to generate $300,000 in donations and grants.
“I am so thrilled to be joining the Holter,” Fey said, and making the Holter his new home. “The Holter is such a great organization. … I’m just so thrilled and honored.”