Public invited to meet new Sonoma Valley Museum of Art director Feb. 28

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Linda Cano grew up with an artist for a mother, thus beginning her lifelong interest in art.

Now, she’s using that passion in her new position as executive director at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.

After two weeks at her new job, Cano says she is very much enjoying her new gig and the Sonoma art community has been friendly and welcoming.

The museum’s search for a new ED lasted nine months, beginning last March when longtime SVMA director Kate Eilertsen stepped down to take a more curatorial role as artistic director. When Eilertsen departed permanently in July to pursue other endeavors, SVMA Board vice president Yvonne Hall stepped in as the interim director while the search continued.

The search ended when the committee found and hired Cano last month.

“She was a very good fit for us. She has very good experience with grants and fundraising,” said museum board President Douglas Fenn Wilson. “She will help us continue to grow. We’re extremely excited and optimistic to have her on board.”

Cano comes to Sonoma with an impressive resume and history in art. She received her master of arts degree from California State University, Fresno and went on to teach art and design there from 1993 to 2010. She went on to become the executive director of the Fresno Art Museum in 2010.

When she started at FAM, there was talk of closing it down. Cano says she took the challenge head on and is proud that, in her four years there, she was able to stabilize the museum financially, expand membership and get the exhibition space “back in the black.”

She left the Fresno Art Museum in 2014 to launch AXIS Art Consulting before finding her way to Sonoma this month. Although she has visited the Valley of the Moon, this is her first time living in Sonoma.

Mostly, Cano says she is excited for the future of SVMA.

According to Cano, the museum recently received a large “gift” that will allow it to increase its marketing efforts, as well as reevaluate and update other aspects of the museum.

“It’s at a position where it can really grow,” Cano said.

Members of the community interested in talking to Cano about art and where the museum is headed can see her from 3 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 28 at SVMA. The museum will provide refreshments and drinks while the public gets to know the museum’s new director.

“I hope they come out,” Cano said about the meet and greet. “I look forward to meeting people one-on-one in the community.”

SVMA has been around since 1998 and at its current location at 551 Broadway since 2004. Although a small town museum, SVMA has made a name for itself over the years by becoming one of the larger visual arts organizations in the North Bay.

Cano hopes to continue to bring the community together with the museum.

“I look for art that connects with people, that engages them and reaches out to the community,” Cano said. “For me, that’s what an art museum is – to engage the community.”

Clarification: A previous version of this story referred to the above-mentioned “gift” as an endowment. Museum officials, however, emphasize the donation was, in fact, a “gift.”

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