The Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MarinMOCA) is excited to announce Jodi Roberts as the museum’s new executive director.
As of the first day of May, Roberts will take the reins and begin her new role, succeeding Amy Owen as executive director of MarinMOCA.
“We had a great experience with Amy Owen—she was a very strong leader,” said MarinMOCA board president Daniel Daniloff. “But Jodi is absolutely fabulous! We had 90 applicants for the job, and we whittled it down to six. [Roberts] was head and shoulders above everybody else…and everyone else was extremely qualified as well.”
Roberts boasts a downright impressive decade full of professional experience in the world of art and art history. She has worked with and for prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, as well as Stanford University and the Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery.
“In part, I see my coming to MarinMOCA as a continuation of the incredible growth of its exhibitions, which Amy Owen did a great job with in bringing new types of art, artists and exhibitions to MarinMOCA—it’s my instinct to continue that,” said Roberts.
“I want to keep bringing in new artists, but locally focused,” she continued. “I’m excited for community-centered, smaller and more regional work for building up the community…a museum can be a great place for that.”
Roberts is also the co-founder of Art + Climate Action, a San Francisco Bay Area collective dedicated to creating an environmentally conscientious approach to sustainable art models. She plans to bring this eco-friendly attitude for art to her work at MarinMOCA as well.
“On a very practical side, my past two years working with art in regards to climate action has me focusing on and thinking creatively about how we approach exhibitions,” explained Roberts. “What can the exhibition be, and how can it be put together and how can we improve our energy use and how can we amplify and advance the climate goals of Marin County? And how can we at MarinMOCA become a model of sustainability in the world of art?”
Roberts spent her formative years in Tucson and moved to New York City as soon as she was finished with high school. She took advantage of the gap between high school and higher education to travel, broaden her horizons and explore the world around her through a quintessential coming-of-age backpacking trip through Europe.
“I took three years off between high school and college and did backpacking through Europe,” explained Roberts. “We landed in Madrid, and the trip took us wherever we felt we needed to go—this trip definitely stoked my interest in art and, through the experience, I thought I’d study history.”
After Roberts returned from her travels and while living in New York, she earned her Ph.D. in philosophy, history of art and architecture in 2015. During this time, she also worked for five years as a curatorial assistant for the Museum of Modern Art.
“Studying art history offered me a lens through which I could study history through the creative mind and an artist,” explained Roberts. “It’s how I found a hook to understanding history, and there is, in my opinion, no better way to study the past than through art and artists.”
After finishing her dissertation, Roberts moved again, this time from the East Coast all the way to the western coast of California. And, in 2015, she began working as a curator for Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center.
“I took the opportunity at the Cantor Arts Center since I love working in universities and I love the dynamism of working in smaller art spaces,” said Roberts. “I understood that I’d have much more one-on-one time there, especially since [the Cantor Arts Center] sits within a larger institution.”
“I was genuinely excited to be in the Bay after so much time in New York,” continued Roberts. “And, of course, the cultural lore and the appeal of the Bay Area was intense, and I was happy to have had the opportunity to make the move out here.”
Roberts eventually settled down in Mill Valley, where she has lived for nearly five years. During this time, Roberts developed a family and currently has two young boys who she describes as “very West Coast.”
“My goal was always to explore the Bay Area in its larger form,” said Roberts. “It’s fascinating how each different city in the Bay Area has its own vibe, its own appeal, and I love that.”
Currently, Roberts plans to continue with the existing lineup for MarinMOCA’s 2023 exhibitions but is excited to implement some of her own ideas for the museum come 2024. Her focus for the moment will be in community building, education and maintaining the quality of work expected from Marin’s fine arts institution.
“Starting the first of May, I will always be present at the museum,” said Roberts. “I will definitely be a public presence for the community. I’m just really excited to be here, and I want to be available to help make MarinMOCA a hub in the larger ecosystem of the Bay Area as well.”
Roberts also hopes to pursue routes for collaboration between MarinMOCA and other local institutions. These interdisciplinary projects, which Roberts has seen through her work with Art + Climate Action, could play a role in paving the way for more combined community efforts toward a greater Marin.
“It’s part of that larger mission and, going back to the idea of art helping to grow the understanding of bigger cultural trends and debates, a museum is the perfect place to interact with and understand that,” said Roberts.
The current exhibition schedule for MarinMOCA will remain unchanged, and guests may attend during regular hours to see the work of Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Nellie King Solomon in the “Super-Silly-Us” exhibition, as well as the 2023 Artist Member Showcase of “Elena Guryeva: Phenomena.”
“I think a lot of the artists who are working [in Marin] have been working here for quite a while,” concluded Roberts. “There’s a particular attunement to the immediate community and to the world around them that spills into their work and gives a special Bay Area flavor and interest. It’s a really rich and diverse scene, and I think that MarinMOCA can be a big part of that going forward.”
MarinMOCA is located at 500 Palm Dr. in Novato. For more information, call 415.506.0137, send an email to [email protected] or visit the website at marinmoca.org. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 11am to 4pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.