Stefano Catalani is becoming the executive director of the Gage Academy of Art, a fine-art school in Seattle that specializes in finely honed drawing, painting and sculpting, with a small gallery to show its students’ work.
Stefano Catalani, curator for Bellevue Arts Museum since 2005, is becoming the executive director of Gage Academy of Art, a fine-art school in Seattle that specializes in finely honed drawing, painting and sculpting, with a small gallery to show its students’ work.
Gage has been operating on a year-round basis since 1995. Catalani said moving to Gage was “an incredible opportunity” after Executive Director Sheila Hughes left to run the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
Gage is thrilled to have a curator of Catalani’s caliber, said artist and teacher Gary Faigin, who co-founded Gage. “He is very charismatic and charming and has a glow when he talks about art. He sweeps you along to think, ‘Yes! These are the finer things in life! This is what civilization is all about!’ ”
(Full disclosure: Faigin also writes art criticism for The Seattle Times.)
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Catalani, who moved to Seattle from Rome in 2001, said he has no major changes in mind for Gage at the moment. “There will definitely be a discovery phase for me,” he said. “I see myself attending the workshops, wandering around the studios and atelier, and want to get my feet wet and learn more.”
Faigin spoke admiringly of some exhibitions Catalani had curated at BAM, including “Knock on Wood,” which highlighted new woodwork in art (including a carefully carved tricycle by Humaira Abid), the anguished ceramics of Tip Toland and Kurt Weiser’s delicately painted pottery. (The most-visited exhibition during Catalani’s tenure, with over 19,000 visitors, was “A World of Paper, A World of Fashion: Isabelle de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny,” BAM spokesperson Emilie Smith wrote by email.)
BAM had collapsed under financial pressures in 2003, but Faigin says Catalani is widely credited with bringing it back to life.
“It was trying to be all things to all people and it didn’t pencil out, so they closed,” Faigin said. “But Catalani has been at Bellevue since they re-emerged — the museum is successful, permanent and a well-branded part of the local art world … when people see something they like at the museum, they credit him.”
Information in this article, originally published Aug. 2, 2016, was corrected Aug. 4, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Stefano Catalani’s name.