Leslie Markle, former director of public art and design for the Arts Council for Long Beach, has been named the inaugural curator for public art in the Sam Fox School.
The appointment, effective July 16, was announced by Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts.
In his work as an arts manager and consultant, Markle has specialized in cultural planning for redevelopment, art-in-transit, and percent-for-art programs. With the Arts Council for Long Beach, he managed dozens of permanent and temporary public art installations throughout the city as well as exhibitions, public events, and educational programs. Major projects include the Long Beach Mobile Art Space, a portable performance venue for vacant lots, funded through the NEA's Mayor's Institute On City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative; and a redevelopment of the Promenade in downtown Long Beach, including Image Emergence: Promenade of Clouds by artist Craig Cree Stone and Aerial Plaza by artist Carl Cheng. Long Beach Transit ARRA Projects, six permanent public art commissions, were funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Previously, Markle worked as an artist team member for the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, and as lead artist for the Bus Shelter Project commissioned by Long Beach Transit. In partnership with Stone, he served as fabrication consultant for Signs of Shade Along Vermont (Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, 2000) and project manager for Shadows Casting on the Shore (The Public Corporation for the Arts and Belmont Shore Business Association, 1996).
"Leslie's extensive experience in the planning, development, funding, and execution of public art projects, as well as his success in working effectively with artists, community members, public officials, and business leaders, will be tremendous assets as the Sam Fox School advances new initiatives," Colangelo says. "As curator for public art, Leslie will have primary responsibility for the University's new Art on Campus program, which seeks to activate the campus community and contribute to the cultural identity of the St. Louis metropolitan area."
"We recognize that art in the public sphere has the potential to creatively transform the ways through which we perceive, relate to, and experience our daily environments. Maybe most importantly, contemporary art in public spaces not only enables accessibility to and fosters dialogue about the very nature of contemporary art but also contributes to our understanding of community and history at the beginning of the 21st century," says Sabine Eckmann, the William T. Kemper Director and chief curator of the Kemper Art Museum. "I look forward to the curatorial vision and experience Leslie will bring to this new initiative."
Markle's duties will include stewarding the commissioning process and researching, executing, and managing site-specific indoor and outdoor installations across campus. Works commissioned as part of Art on Campus—generally in tandem with capital building and renovation projects—will become part of the Kemper Art Museum's permanent collection.
"Last year, while visiting the Stuart Collection at UC San Diego, I decided that Mary Beebe—the Collection's director—had the greatest public art job possible," Markle says. "I'm very excited to be joining the curatorial staff at such a renowned university. This is a dream job for me."
"Public art is born out of collaboration, so the Art on Campus program, as an extension of a remarkable teaching museum, is a perfect fit for the collaborative structure of the Sam Fox School," Markle says. "Through this program, we have tremendous potential to connect with audiences on campus and beyond and to further explore the connection between art and contemporary life."
A long-time resident of Southern California, Markle earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting, a Master of Arts in Art, and a Master of Fine Arts, all from California State University, Long Beach.
He has significant teaching experience as an adjunct faculty member at Fullerton Community College, Chapman University, California State University, Long Beach, and Long Beach City College. He is an artist and also an arts writer whose works have been published regularly in artUS, a publication of The Foundation For International Art Criticism, and in online forums such as the California State University, Long Beach, Art Department website. Professional affiliations include Americans for the Arts, the Public Art Coalition of Southern California, and the College Art Association.