Rodman Hall Art Centre’s new director is aware that he has a nicer office than most.
Stuart Reid works in a spacious room near the front of the historic mansion on St. Paul Crescent. The floors are hardwood. The office ceilings stretch high.
“I feel very fortunate to work in an office like this,” he said in an interview during his first month on the job. He became the new director on Jan. 1.
Reid is no stranger to new locations. A native of Scotland, he grew up in the Chatham area and studied art and art history at York University. His first job in the industry was as associate curator of The Craft Gallery of the Ontario Crafts Council in Toronto. He went on to work at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and served as director and curator of the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound. At his most recent post, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Sask., he spent two and a half years as executive director.
At the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Reid oversaw a staff of 45. He’s looking forward to getting more hands on with Rodman Hall’s exhibitions and art collection.
“I really missed curatorial work and being aligned with the artistic process, working with artists and handling work.”
Reid is an internationally recognized art curator and writer. He is past president of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. He is an alumnus of the J. Paul Getty Trust’s Museum Leadership Institute at the University of California at Berkeley, and is also an elected member of the International Curators of Contemporary Art Network based in Luxenbourg.
The arts are a lifelong interest for the new director. He is an artist himself, although “when you develop a critical eye, you tend to levy that against yourself.” His partner is a singer, songwriter and recording artist. Reid also enjoys cooking and travel.
His goal, he says, is for Rodman Hall “to continue to be a leader in the field and an important contemporary arts centre,” he said.
“I see potential for the arts centre to be a portal for Brock to develop new conversations with the community,” he said.
The mansion itself and its spacious botanical gardens are also a touchstone in Niagara, he said. Rodman Hall was built in 1853 by Thomas Rodman Merritt. He was the son of William Hamilton Merritt, who built the first Welland Canal.
“This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812,” Reid said. “We’ll all be celebrating the history of the Niagara Region and I know that Rodman Hall is intricately linked to our storytelling.”