Two Curatorial Promotions Deepen Mint’s Commitment to American, Modern, & Contemporary Art

Jonathan Stuhlman, Amber Smith to assume new titles, following recent hire of new Chief Designer Steven Plaxco

The Mint Museum has continued to strengthen its employee roster with the creation of two new roles on its Curatorial team, following its recent hiring of a new Chief Designer from Bilbao, Spain, and two other recent new additions to its Collections & Exhibitions team.
Jonathan Stuhlman, formerly the Mint’s curator of American Art and more recently the Senior Curator of American, Modern, & Contemporary Art, has now joined the museum’s senior leadership team. The team reports directly to the Mint’s President & CEO, Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, and plays a key role in museum management. “Jon’s experience, expertise, and judicious nature will bring the Mint great benefits from his heightened presence as part of senior management. Jon’s extraordinary talents, writing prowess, and graceful demeanor will continue to serve the museum and our community well,” Jameson said.
Since joining the Mint in 2006, Stuhlman has organized a wide range of exhibitions that have traveled both nationally and internationally, focusing on artists including Clare Leighton, Robert Henri, Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy, and Charles Seliger. He has also authored exhibition catalogues to accompany each of these exhibitions. Stuhlman oversaw the reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection for the opening of Mint Museum Uptown in 2010 and has been responsible for numerous important acquisitions during his tenure. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Virginia.
In another new role, Amber Smith, formerly an assistant on the curatorial team, has been promoted to Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. She has organized or helped organize many significant exhibitions since joining the museum in 2009, culminating with the widely acclaimed Bearing Witness: The New York Photo League and Sonia Handelman Meyer, currently on view at Mint Museum Randolph through June 29, 2014. She has assisted with exhibitions focusing on the work of Romare Bearden, Jun Kaneko, Vik Muniz, and Thornton Dial, and curated the museum’s Heritage Gallery installation and the exhibition Still Lives: The Early Work of Sharon Core. She also helped to produce exhibition catalogues on Romare Bearden and Charles Seliger, microsites focusing on North Carolina Pottery and Charles Seliger (both linked from under “Resources”), and is currently authoring the catalogue accompanyingBearing Witness: The New York Photo League and Sonia Handelman Meyer, which is currently scheduled to be published in time for a public February 21 event at Mint Museum Randolph sponsored by Friends of the Mint – see for details or to attend.Smith received her BFA in Painting and her MA in Art History from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
“I am confident that Amber will make many important contributions to the museum and its programming as she takes on a greater level of responsibility here,” said Stuhlman.
The two promotions follow the 2013 hiring of Steven Plaxco as the museum’s new Chief Designer. Plaxco made his Mint debut designing the recent blockbusterWorld’s Fairs exhibition, the first exhibition to take up both levels of the museum’s special exhibition space since the opening of Mint Museum Uptown in 2010.
Plaxco brought to the Mint more than two decades of experience in exhibition installation and design. He founded and directed ODESSA Fine Arts Solutions, a private service and consulting firm in the arts based in Bilbao, Spain, which specializes in exhibition design, project management, installation services, and conservation and restoration. With ODESSA, Plaxco worked with acclaimed museums and galleries throughout Europe, including the world-famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid; the Stiftung Museum Kunst Palest in Düsseldorf, Germany; and the White Cube Gallery in London. Plaxco also worked for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where he oversaw the technical aspects of the installation operation at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao following its Inaugural Exhibition. During his years at the Guggenheim Bilbao, he managed the expansion of the museum’s design, production, and preparation areas.
Plaxco is a native of Greenville, S.C. and received a Masters in Fine Arts from Louisiana State University and Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University, where he studied sculpture. “Growing up, the Mint was considered the museum in this corner of the Southeast,” Plaxco said. “The Mint is well respected as an emerging player in the circuit of cultural institutions, and getting better known every day.”
Additionally, the Mint has added two new members to enhance its Collections & Exhibitions team: A new Collections Photographer and a Registration Assistant. The photographer position was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The museum was recognized last spring as one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant.
As Registration Assistant, Katherine Balcerek Medlin serves as the clearinghouse for image rights and reproductions requests for works of art from the Mint’s permanent collection, as well as working closely with the new photographer on the NEA grant. Medlin is a freelance writer who blogs for the Knight Foundation, and has a BA from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a Master of Arts in Public History from North Carolina State University. Brandon Scott, most recently a freelance art photographer, is tasked with producing images of the museum’s permanent collection for print and digital applications as well as establishing a working photography studio inside the museum. Scott has a BA in Architecture from UNC Charlotte.