Continuing the link

New Artlink director reaching out to artists, community

Amber Recker, photography by Ellie Bogue

Amber Recker, photography by Ellie Bogue

Amber Recker is not a classically trained visual artist. But she’s cool with that. What she is, is someone who knows how to craft compelling marketing campaigns and raise money.

Which is what makes her qualified to take over the helm of Artlink, the first non-artist to assume the directorship of the 36-year-old gallery of contemporary art, replacing Deb Washler, who took a job in the private sector. Recker began work on Sept. 2.

Recker is the former marketing and development director for Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, where she oversaw the Bust-A-Move breast cancer support fundraiser among many other programs.

That’s where she “fell in love with philanthropy,” she said. Curating Bust-A-Move “gave me the confidence” that she could work well with the arts community and especially with Artlink, whose purpose is both to present works by area artists and to provide educational programs for artists and the broader community.

“I had been looking for the opportunity to take the helm” of a nonprofit organization, she said, after working in the private sector for several years. “This just felt perfect.”

Because she is not an artist herself, Recker said, she would be relying on Artlink’s 19-member artist panel and the gallery’s staff to guide exhibitions. Shows are booked two years in advance, so the earliest Recker’s stamp could come would be in 2016, which is also Indiana’s bicentennial. Recker said she wants to program Artlink’s three galleries to honor the state’s birthday.

But her influence will be felt in other ways sooner. “My vision is to get Artlink outside the walls of this gallery,” she said. Her team is planning a mural project that would tie in with Artlink’s downtown location in the Auer Center for Arts and Culture, as well as a project that could put “artistic elements” inside downtown crosswalks near the arts campus in the 300 block of West Main Street. There are also plans afoot to call on teenage artists to work with downtown merchants to “artify” their alleyway service doors and an idea for vacant storefront windows.

Also pressing for Recker is her desire to link Artlink with more corporate donors.

“There are definitely opportunities for partnerships,” Recker said. “We’re coming up with a long-term development plan. For example, we don’t have a signature fundraising event. We’re ready for something that will not only raise more money but also” raise the gallery’s profile and awareness.

Artlink has more than 700 members, and Recker said providing support for them through educational and training programs is key to the group’s mission. The annual Members’ Show and the National Print Exhibit will continue to be Artlink’s signature shows.

“Artlink has a long history of serving its members,” Recker noted. “I’m very respectful of that history. We want to link artists with opportunity.”

First appeared in the December 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.


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