West Side News & Notes
Akron Art Museum director to step down
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron Art Museum’s longtime director, Mitchell Kahan, announced Aug. 13 he plans to leave the museum in January.
Museum officials also announced that day that Janice Driesbach will join the staff on Aug. 20 as the museum’s new chief curator following a yearlong national search.
Kahan, who said he will leave Jan. 2, will assume the title director emeritus. He served as director for 26 years, which museum officials said is one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country.
“Mitchell has brought an impressive record of achievement to the museum’s 90-year history,” said Fred Bidwell, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “The board is immensely grateful for his dedication, foresight, creativity and passion. His commitment to the cultural arts and the community will have a lasting impact in Akron and Northeast Ohio.”
Under Kahan’s direction, officials said the museum experienced significant institutional growth. The museum went from a 25,000-square-foot facility to 83,000 square feet, from an endowment of just more than $2 million to more than $20 million following three campaigns, from a collection of 2,000 objects to more than 5,000, and from a staff of 22 to more than 50. The museum also hosted a capital campaign that raised $44.8 million, surpassing the goal of $42 million.
Also, Kahan raised almost $5 million in permanent endowment funds for purchases of art. Officials said when he arrived at the museum in 1986, there were no funds for art purchases.
Kahan said the museum’s renovation and expansion a few years ago was the best part of his years in Akron.
“The biggest and perhaps most rewarding challenge of my career was working with one of the world’s leading architects, Wolf Prix, on the museum expansion,” Kahan said.
The John S. and James L. Knight Building, at 1 S. High St., received worldwide acclaim when it opened in 2007. It earned a 2008 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Award and was a finalist for the Lubetkin Prize.
Over the years, Kahan has received awards for his accomplishments, including honors from the Ohio Museums Association and Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel Center for Nonprofit Management, as well as the Cleveland Arts Prize.
Kahan said he will continue living in the Akron area with his partner, Christopher Hixson, and will focus on foundation management, arts journalism and making art.
Museum officials said Driesbach, a native of Lakewood, has worked as both a curator and museum director. After earning an undergraduate degree in art history and political science from Allegheny College, she received her master’s degree in art history from the University of Iowa, where she studied with art historian Frank Seiberling (son of Goodyear founder F.A. Seiberling). She later worked at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento as curator of art and held museum directorships at the University of Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum of Art and The Dayton Art Institute.
“It is an honor to join the Akron Art Museum as chief curator,” Driesbach said. “I am eager to work with the museum’s strong and dynamic collection and to undertake new collaborations. I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, engaging with art and artists, and becoming part of the Akron community.”
“Jan’s experience in museum management will be an immense asset as we move forward in our executive search for Mitchell’s successor,” Bidwell said. “In addition, there is strong continuity on the board, which has complete confidence in the museum’s present leadership staff.”
A national search committee will be comprised of past museum presidents. Bidwell said the board anticipates significant interest in the position due to the museum’s national reputation.
State provides swine flu outreach at fairs
COLUMBUS — Outreach to reinforce the importance of the spread of swine flu will be conducted at county fairs in Ohio, state officials announced Aug. 10.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said they have put in place an outreach plan to increase awareness of H3N2v at fairs, where a representative from ODA and ODH, or a local designee such as the fair veterinarian or health commissioner, will visit to make in-person contact with swine exhibitors.
ODH officials reported they have confirmed additional cases of Influenza A variant H3N2 in Ohio. There are currently 54 cases of H3N2v statewide, one of which was reported in Medina County. At this time, surveillance indicates that the individuals most likely became ill with the flu virus after exposure to swine.
Those with confirmed cases of H3N2v are between the ages of 6 months and 36 years old. To date, five of the confirmed cases in Ohio were hospitalized, but they have since been treated and released. Health officials have not determined if there has been person-to-person transmission at this time, but continue to investigate the possibility.
With county fairs running into the first week of October in Ohio, ODA and ODH remind residents and visitors that fair attendance is safe. Those attending the fair should remember:
• wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals;
• never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas, and don’t take food or drink into animal areas;
• young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals;
• if you have animals — including swine — watch them for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick;
• avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible; and
• avoid contact with swine if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
More information is available from ODH at www.bit.ly/OhioH3N2vUpdates. The agencies also created an informational video for fairgoers and exhibitors, and there is a link to that on the website.
Summit County Public Health reports increase of West Nile Virus
SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Public Health (SCPH) officials announced they have found an increase in the number of mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus (WNV) as compared to previous years.
The percentage of WNV-positive mosquitoes is the highest since the virus first appeared in the county in 2002, according to SCPH officials.
SCPH officials state that while no human cases of WNV have been reported in the county, area residents should protect themselves from mosquito bites. People can reduce the risk of contracting WNV though a number of ways, including:
• staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active — at dawn and at dusk;
• wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants when going outdoors;
• using mosquito repellant. Products containing DEET should not be used on infants younger than 1, and products for older children should not contain more than 10 percent, according to SCPH officials. Adults can apply DEET at 30 percent. Products containing picaridin, IR 3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus also are effective. The latter should not be used on children younger than 3 years old, and users should follow label directions when using any of these products, according to SCPH officials; and
• decreasing the presence of mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites, which include standing water in containers, gutters and children’s toys, as well as old tires. Also, SCPH officials recommend changing the water in birdbaths at least once a week.
SCPH officials stated they are continuing efforts to reduce the mosquito population by treating areas containing mosquito larvae and spraying for adult mosquitoes during the evening. They also are actively surveying areas to detect the presence of WNV and locate high-risk areas for treatment.
For details on mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito prevention or to report areas of standing water, visit www.scphoh.org or call SCPH Mosquito Control at 330-926-5668.
The SCPH spray schedule is available by calling 330-926-5667.
Kathleen Folkerth and Ariel Hakim contributed to these reports.
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Calendar of Events
- Spaghetti Dinner - 5/18/2013
- Amadeus Sinfonietta - 5/18/2013
- Book fair - 5/18/2013
- Sounds of Spring - 5/18/2013
- Highland Middle School Art Show - 5/18/2013