Last night, I visited the Tweed Museum for the Ken Bloom retirement party. Normally, the retirement of a colleague at the university would not be something to draw attention to — but Ken Bloom is different, and I’d guess two hundred people were at the Tweed to share in the event.
The galleries were full, and it felt good to see so many people in the space that Bloom’s more-than-a-decade of arts administration made possible. Under Bloom, the Tweed Museum moved decisively from being a university resource to a regional resource with national resonance.
The music made a crowd into a party.
Hidden in these two pictures are members of the Bloom family.
After fifteen years, I am deathly tired of the food offered by UMD catering — but the party was packed and the food was enjoyed by members of the community.
In the above picture you can see local artist and graphic designer Catherine Meier. (Other luminaries at the event included local arts writer Ed Newman, soloist Elias Mokole and others.)
I want to nod here toward how I met Ken and Catherine as board members of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.
We joined the arts council at the start of the Legacy infusion, a moment which tripled the budget for art in the region. The council moved from “a tiny operation of about two and a half staff doing token infusions of state funding into the seven-county Arrowhead” into a “more-than-quarter-million dollar agency.” The regional arts council suddenly became an engine for economic development in the region and a legitimate agency.
Of all the members of the board at the time, Ken Bloom was the only one of us who’d helmed a full-scale arts organization anywhere near the size of what ARAC would become. Ken was in large part responsible for transforming ARAC into the organization that doesn’t just feed the arts; it feeds business, it feeds education; it nourishes us all.
These last two pictures are of Ken doing one of the things he does best (the other is photography): listening, engaging.
Enjoy retirement, Ken; the region, in the meanwhile, will enjoy the world you have created through your tireless arts advocacy.
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