Guild Hall Names A Director

Susan Rosenbaum | July 22, 1999

Guild Hall's board of trustees has chosen Ruth Stevens Appelhof as its new executive director.

Her appointment, Dr. Appelhof said this week, comes at a time when the East Hampton cultural center is poised for a "huge spurt of growth."

Dr. Appelhof, who holds B.F.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Syracuse University, has spent 20 years directing a variety of community cultural institutions.

They include the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul and the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn., where she developed new public events and multicultural programming in the public schools.

Its "Mission"

She will begin her new job on Sept. 8, replacing Henry Korn, who announced his resignation in January to take up an offer in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Dr. Appelhof said she wanted to help Guild Hall expand and become "more vital as a community resource." She pointed to a recent feasibility study which, she said, mentions Guild Hall's "need to review its mission."

She said she was "impressed with the honesty of the study," which was commissioned by the trustees and has not yet been made available to the press or the public.

In coming months, Dr. Appelhof said, she will work to establish "more direct connections with the theater and artists in New York City."

Some of the cultural center's $1.5 million budget could be "reallocated," she added, though she would not elaborate. She will try to determine "what the community really wants," she said.

Dr. Appelhof, who was house-hunting in East Hampton this week, said she was interviewed for the position over a three-month period.

She has been only an occasional visitor to the East End in recent years, but has "warm, warm" memories of a summer she spent here with Lee Krasner while completing her master's thesis in the 1970s.

Author, Curator

As a freelance consultant this past year, she curated an exhibit, "By Virtue of Excellence," at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum and was a guest curator of "Voices Rising: Alabama Women at the Millennium," which will go on display in Washington, D.C., in June 2000, before going on the road for two years.

She recently completed a book, "Just As I Am: Americans With Disabilities," a collaborative work with Carolyn Sherer, a photographer, and Ellen Dosett, a writer, containing writings by former Vice President Bob Dole and Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress.

Dr. Appelhof served as executive director of the Art Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke, Va., from 1989 to 1994, and was curator of painting, sculpture, and graphic arts at the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art for the five years before that.

Fellow, Professor

In 1980, she was a fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has been an adjunct professor at the Universities of Alabama and Syracuse, and an associate professor of art at the State University at Auburn.

Dr. Appelhof is married to Gary Adamek, an executive for Ralston-Purina in Connecticut. Each has a daughter and a son.

Besides Melville (Mickey) Straus, Guild Hall's board chairman, the search committee included William Dreher, who headed the group, Jo Raymond, Michael Lynne, June Noble Larkin, Rona Roob, and Thomas Twomey.

"Dr. Appelhof combines a strong professional background with the ability to clearly articulate a vision," Mr. Straus said in a written statement Monday. "She is vibrant and receptive to new ideas - two traits that will be extremely valuable to the specific challenges of running a diverse cultural institution like Guild Hall."