The Ragdale Foundation, the nationally acclaimed artists’ retreat in Lake Forest, recently announced Jeffrey Meeuwsen as its new Executive Director, beginning September 4, 2012. For over a decade in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jeffrey demonstrated leadership, vision, and creativity that resulted in a more robust arts community and local economy.
Ragdale Board President, Phoebe Turner, said “In Jeff, we have the leader who can move Ragdale to a new level of service to artist residents, the community and the cultural field at large. His career has prepared him well to strategically and thoughtfully heighten Ragdale’s profile, impact and contribution to the creative process.”
Jeffrey served for ten years as the Executive Director of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), one of the nation’s largest, non-collecting contemporary arts centers. He led the institution to international acclaim, with more than 350 curatorial projects, award winning youth programs recognized by the White House, and the design and construction of a new six story, LEED-certified art center.
In addition to his work for the UICA, Jeffrey completed three successful years as the Founding Executive Director and Chief Advisor of Michigan’s renowned ArtPrize. The nineteen-day festival now generates $15.4 million for the West Michigan economy and attracts more than 320,000 visitors to the region.
Before joining UICA and ArtPrize, Jeffrey was the Principal of a firm specializing in landscape design, art furnishings, and public art. He also spent more than ten years in the fields of advertising and market research. He is a former board member of the ArtWorks youth job training program, the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies, and ArtServe Michigan.
“I can think of no greater honor than to lead such an extraordinary artists’ community toward its increasingly influential future,” Jeffrey Meeuwsen comments. “I share its dedication to the ideals of partnership, innovation and creative experimentation.”
Ragdale, now in its fourth decade of providing uninterrupted time and space for writers and artists to work, anticipates increased excitement, involvement and financial support under Jeffrey Meeuwsen’s leadership.
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Ragdale is located on Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s Lake Forest summer retreat, just 30 miles north of Chicago. Built in 1897, the Ragdale House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1976, Shaw’s granddaughter Alice Judson Hayes transformed her family’s summer home into an artist’s community providing time and space for artists to create important new work. Today Ragdale hosts up to 200 artists, writers, and composers each year, making it one the largest interdisciplinary artist’s communities in the country. Noted author/alumni include Jane Hamilton, Alex Kotlowitz and Audrey Niffenegger. For more information, please visit www.ragdale.org or call (847) 234-1063.