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Thayer begins role as new director of NMSU art gallery

Preston Thayer is an insightful, reflective man who doesn't want much attention on himself, but when it comes to art, he's a specialist at putting others in the limelight.

Preston Thayer was recently hired as the New Mexico State University Art Gallery Director. (NMSU Photo by Daniella De Luca)

"Our primary goal is to make the artist's artwork look good. Careful, thoughtful exhibition design allows us to produce a gallery comparable to other museums in the country," Thayer said of the University Art Gallery at New Mexico State University.

In an age when imagery bombards us and computer-generated imaging, at times, alters reality, Thayer wants to give people a rewarding experience when they see an art piece to appreciate its value and beauty. This is what art galleries can provide and will continue to enhance at the university gallery, Thayer said.

Hired in October, Thayer has taken some time to familiarize himself with the campus, gallery and art department's faculty and staff. He also started a committee consisting of representatives from each of the campus collections such as the Zuhl Fossil and Mineral Collection and the University Museum. This committee will coordinate campus gallery events and work on increasing community awareness of the various collections on campus. He gives as an example, the upcoming gallery opening featuring 28 original Andy Warhol photographs that will be displayed from Nov. 14 to Dec. 23, at the NMSU gallery.

One of his goals is to find innovative ways for the gallery to promote itself on campus and in the Las Cruces community, as well as regionally and nationally. One outlet involves filming short video clips of the gallery artwork and then posting them to the university's YouTube channel.

He is also looking at a number of different fundraising projects for the gallery and hopes to be included in the planning of the new Arts Complex.

"I'm excited to work with the art department. It's a young faculty and everyone is very energetic. They are all very active professionally and have made me feel very welcome," Thayer said. He added he is also eagerly anticipating the student and faculty exhibitions scheduled for the spring 2009 semester.

Originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., he attended various schools nationwide and holds a doctorate in history of art from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to NMSU, he worked as a gallery director in Virginia.

Thayer spends his leisure time cooking, reading, traveling and appreciating art whenever he can.