The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) on Friday announced the resignation of Pam Rorke Levy, the board chair of the embattled art school who recently suggested selling a historic Diego Rivera mural to right the institution's finances.
Elected as Levy's successor is Lonnie Graham, a member of the Board since July 2020, former adjunct professor for the school and SFAI graduate. In a statement, Graham said, "As we move forward, I would like to see the San Francisco Art Institute continue to cultivate and sustain experimentation and innovation in the fine arts as we imagine an inclusive and collaborative educational environment."
Graham steps into the role during tenuous circumstances for the 150-year-old school. On Jan. 12, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to initiate landmark status for the 1931 Diego Rivera mural The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, located inside the San Francisco Art Institute’s Chestnut Street campus. Opposed by Levy, the decision effectively squashed any plans to sell the mural, estimated to be valued at $50 million, in order to help pay off the school's debt.
The University of California Regents recently bought SFAI's $19.7 million debt, and now serve as landlords for the Chestnut Street campus. The tenant agreement is in place for six years, during which time SFAI must either repay the debt to the UC Regents or forfeit the campus.
SFAI Co-Vice Chairs Bonnie Levinson and Jeremy Stone also stepped down from their positions at the school. Elected in their place as Vice Chair is John Marx, a member of the board for the past four months and a co-founding principal and chief artistic officer of Form4 Architecture in San Francisco.