After its previous director, Bill Arning, left the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston suddenly in 2018, the Texas institution has a new leader. Hesse McGraw, a partner at the Kansas City–based design firm el dorado, inc., will take the helm of the museum in mid-January. “Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is a pioneering institution with a remarkable, radical legacy at the leading edge of contemporary art and ideas,” McGraw said in a statement. “I am thrilled to join CAMH at this pivotal moment in our culture—we need artists now more than ever!”
Prior to becoming a partner at el dorado in 2017, McGraw was the vice president for exhibitions and public programs at the San Francisco Art Institute. Among his projects there was commissioning one of artist Jill Magid’s most iconic works, The Proposal, in which she tries to recover the work of architect Luis Barragán from a bunker in Switzerland. Prior to his stint at the Art Institute, McGraw had been chief curator of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska.
The news comes a little a year after Arning resigned. In an interview with ARTnews from the time, Arning said, “I was feeling I wasn’t making progress, and I wasn’t getting done what I needed to get done.” He said it had been a “tough fundraising year” at CAMH, adding, “They need a new leader, and I need a new life.” Shortly after departing, he took a job at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art gallery in Houston as a curator and artist liaison for special projects.