Judy Salvadore is the new gallery director at the Wickford Art Association.
Salvadore, who has lived in North Kingstown for 23 years, takes the leadership role left vacant when Sarah Hale Folger resigned as executive director in April. Around that time Leslie Felker also resigned as executive assistant.
Salvadore served as director of the Wickford Art Festival, the art association’s signature event, in 2014 and 2015, and is a longtime member of the Photographic Art Group, which meets at the association the second and fourth Monday of the month.
It is because of this group that Salvadore found herself involved with the association. When she was younger, she really liked photography, she said, but then drifted away from this interest. She wanted to get back into it, and learn more about the realm of digital photography, and so she joined the group – and WAA – in 2007.
“I started coming here and everyone was so great,” she said.
She soon found herself becoming more involved, first as a volunteer in the gallery and at the art festival, then as festival director, which is the association’s largest fundraiser and an event that requires a significant amount of planning.
Most recently, she was working for an auction and appraisal company, but she left that job to become WAA’s new gallery director.
As gallery director, Salvador said her main goal is to help the association become more organized.
“My strength is organization,” she said. “[That’s] what I tried to focus on with the festival.”
Part of that effort includes digitizing the gallery’s database and getting WAA on the cloud. This is being done by volunteers, who are building the database and transitioning to the cloud using a Microsoft product available free to non-profit organizations and which offers free storage, email and Microsoft software usage.
“We have such a history that we need to preserve,” she said. “But we also need to grow into the times.”
A new website also is being created and will be easier to navigate, she said.
Salvador said the transition has unified those involved with the gallery, from board members to volunteers, and everyone wants to help preserve the organization that has been in existence for 54 years.
“It’s time to make changes, try new things,” Salvador said. “Chaos can be good, I’m just not crazy about it. It has it’s place.”
She has come on board at the busiest time of the year. The first opening under her watch was less than two weeks after her official start date. Art of the Ocean State, up through July 17, is one of the gallery’s three busiest shows, and is quickly followed by the festival and the popular poetry and art show, which opens July 22.
When asked about future plans for the association’s building, Salvadore said she couldn’t comment; in 2013, the association proposed a $3 million, 6,300-square-foot, two-story building with a solarium and rooftop terrace that would overlook Narragansett Bay. She said the association needs more space, and if there is a class going on in the gallery, she can’t take phone calls, and there is not a quiet place to meet with people.
Her main focus, she said, is on the immediate, internal affairs of the association, and organizing WAA in a way that will enable it to evolve.
The gallery is “a wonderful space to come and grow your creativity,” be it through a class, workshop or opening, she said.
To reach Salvadore, call 294-6840 or visit her at the gallery Tuesday-Friday. To stay up-to-date with gallery happenings, she said people should follow WAA on Facebook or sign up for the newsletter.