Richmond Art Center Director Richard Ambrose Resigns

The Richmond Art Center is located in the city's Civic Center Plaza. (Courtesy Richmond Art Center)

Richard “Ric” Ambrose has resigned as executive director of Richmond Art Center, the organization announced Wednesday in an email signed by board president Patricia Guthrie.

“Ambrose has played a pivotal role in stabilizing and growing the organization, and we want to thank him for his exceptional service and dedication to our community-focused mission,” the announcement reads.

Ambrose, who’s led the organization since 2012, said in a phone call Thursday that he’ll remain until Friday, Nov. 22 to help find an interim director. “I feel that I’ve accomplished my goals,” he said, noting Richmond Art Center recently completed a five-year strategic plan. “I’m also an artist so I want to spend more time drawing, and I’ll be considering other exciting opportunities.”

The announcement credits Ambrose with expanding Richmond Art Center’s remote and on-site arts education and instruction programs, boosting the budget and attendance and mounting exhibitions by Bay Area artists including Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown and David Parker.

A year ago Ambrose also secured a 50-year lease with the City of Richmond for its Civic Center Plaza site. The city contributes 22 percent of Richmond Art Center’s budget, which has grown from approximately $500,000 to $1.6 million since 2012, Ambrose said. The art center offers a range of free programming as well as scholarship opportunities for its studio art classes.

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Ambrose said he is proudest of improving Richmond Art Center’s community engagement during his tenure. “When I started we had good exhibitions and studio programs, but we didn’t have a real presence in the community,” he said. “So we launched a third arm in schools and partnered with a number of nonprofits—making a whole new infrastructure from scratch.”

Ambrose, who has a background in curating and teaching and is a practicing artist represented by Hespe Gallery in San Francisco, previously led the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto.

“During this transition period, it is our priority to find the best individual to lead, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization,” the Thursday board announcement reads.

Founded in 1936, Richmond Art Center offers studio art classes, exhibitions and events, and calls itself the largest visual arts center in the East Bay.

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