Maruja Baldwin Executive Director
Roxana Velásquez is the Maruja Baldwin Executive Director at The San Diego Museum of Art. As a passionate advocate for the arts, Ms. Velásquez has focused on fostering cross-cultural dialogues within the San Diego community as well as nationally and internationally. Throughout her professional career, she has organized many high-profile exhibitions in her capacity as the Executive Director of the Museo Nacional de San Carlos, Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and currently with The San Diego Museum of Art.
In all held leadership positions, Ms. Velásquez elevated each respective institution to international recognition. As the Executive Director of The San Diego Museum of Art, she has increased the institution’s holdings with the donation of works of art by world-renowned artists including Francisco de Zurbarán’s Saint Francis in Prayer in a Grotto, 1655, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida’s On the Seashore, Valencia, 1908, and, most recently Jusepe de Ribera’s Saint James the Lesser, ca. 1632. During Ms. Velásquez’s tenure, the Museum has acquired 920 works of art through donations and gifts. High-level exhibitions and loans from the Museum’s collection travel continuously around the world, reinforcing cultural exchange while at the same time raising the global recognition of the institution. These include United States Art from The San Diego Museum of Art at the Suzhou Museum in China (2010), Visions of India at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid (2012), Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology (2013), and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec (2014), and the loan of René Magritte’s The Shadows, 1966, to the National Art Center Tokyo (2015) and the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (2015). Most recently, Giorgione’s Portrait of a Man (1506) was on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts (2016).
Since Ms. Velásquez’s arrival at the Museum, exhibitions have included From El Greco to Dalí, Gauguin to Warhol, Sorolla and America, The Invention of Glory, The Human Beast (German Expressionism), Mexican Modern Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection, and The Art of Music, an exhibition that included over 200 works of art with more than 50 lenders. At the conclusion of the exhibition at The San Diego Museum of Art, The Art of Music traveled to Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Mexico. Under the guidance of Ms. Velásquez, the Museum has successfully collaborated with local peer institutions including the San Diego Symphony, the San Diego Youth Symphony, and the University of California, San Diego.
In addition to ongoing public and educational programs and bilingual initiatives, Ms. Velásquez has embraced innovation by bringing technology to the Museum’s galleries. This includes a new mobile app and tours, audio tours, and telepresence guides (robots controlled remotely from a desktop computer) that allow people to “beam” in from around the world to explore the Museum. Ms. Velásquez further participated in new information-exchange programs, including presenting at the first TEDx event staged simultaneously in two countries with speakers presenting in San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Baja California.
It is under Ms. Velásquez’s leadership that the Museum has published new catalogues and children’s books in addition to receiving multiple grants for exhibitions. Grants have been received from the Getty Foundation as well as the James Irvine Foundation to fund the Museum’s public art program Open Spaces for at-risk areas within the San Diego community.
Ms. Velásquez is a member of multiple boards, including Association of Art Museum Directors; International Council of Museums; American Alliance of Museums; Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales de Museos; San Diego Tourism and Authority; Curatorial Advisory Board at University of San Diego; and a Trustee of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (BPCP).
Ms. Velásquez has been distinguished by the King of Spain with the Cross of Isabel la Católica for outstanding cultural projects of Spanish art organized in Mexico (2007). The Belgian government awarded her with the prestigious decoration of the Knight of the Order of the Crown for cross-cultural relations between Belgium and Mexico (2014). Ms. Velásquez was recently selected to serve on the Paris Biennial Commission responsible for selecting the galleries and dealers to exhibit at the 2017 Biennial.
Chief Operating Officer
Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl joined the Museum as its Chief Operating Officer in October 2013. Prior to this, Mr. Fenkart-Froeschl worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York where he served as Director of Operations and Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. He played an active role in planning and developing the Museum’s $1 billion campaign; co-led the world’s most comprehensive risk assessment for collections; helped develop museum-wide financial and operational goals; and implemented both revenue-enhancing and cost-reduction strategies. By the time of his departure, Mr. Fenkart-Froeschl oversaw three departments with revenue targets in excess of $10 million, and was managing more than 58 full-time and part-time staff. Prior to joining the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Fenkart-Froeschl co-founded the Center for Park Management, a division within the National Parks Conservation Association. Before entering the not-for-profit world, Mr. Fenkart-Froeschl spent three years in commercial banking, middle-market leveraged finance. Mr. Fenkart-Froeschl earned an MBA from Columbia Business School in New York and a BA from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.
Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Education
Anita Feldman joined the Museum as Director of Curatorial Affairs in May 2014. Prior to this, Ms. Feldman was Head of Collections and Exhibitions for the Henry Moore Foundation in England, curating exhibitions of his work worldwide. She has collaborated with Tate Britain, London; the Kremlin Museum, Moscow; the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; the Musée Rodin, Paris, and The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as well as many other museums throughout Europe, the United States, South America, China, and Japan. She was responsible for managing a collection of more than 15,000 objects including French Realist, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist paintings, arts from Africa, pre-Columbia, and archaic Greece, as well as Henry Moore’s home, studios and sculpture park in rural Hertfordshire.
She served on the senior management team of the Foundation and as a Director of the Foundation’s Trading Company, member of the Grants Committee, and member of the Henry Moore Authentication Committee. Feldman wrote her thesis on Richard Serra at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where she also studied the development of modern art in France. Prior to this she received a degree in American and Modern Art at the University of California Los Angeles and organized exhibitions for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her publications include the definitive books on Moore’s textiles and his original plasters, as well as a new perspective on Rodin and exhibition catalogues worldwide.
Since arriving at SDMA, Ms. Feldman was instrumental in organizing Art of the Open Air, which brought several outdoor sculptures into the Plaza de Panama. She oversaw the rehanging of all the museum’s collection galleries and the creation of the Visible Vaults, an interactive space allowing an additional 300 works of art to be on view. She was the lead curator for the British contemporary sculpture exhibition Richard Deacon What You See Is What You Get.
Director of Museum Advancement
Overseeing the Department of Advancement, which includes Development, Membership and Special Events, Ms. Pennington-Kaplan comes to the Museum with over twenty years of experience in non-profit development and marketing. Ms. Pennington-Kaplan is a graduate of the University of California San Diego where she initially launched her career in development. Her background includes serving as Campaign Director and Director of Development in educational settings, cultural organizations, and medical institutions. She has managed development departments and worked as a fundraising consultant with institutions such as UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Rutgers University, Columbia University, The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, The American Conservatory Theater, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Scripps Health Foundation, among others. She has served on the Board of Directors and other committees for the Smuin Ballet, National Charity League, and Autism Tree Project Foundation.
Kari A. Kovach
Director of Marketing & Communications
Ms. Kovach oversees branding, cross-platform promotions, digital assets, and media. Prior to joining the Museum, she was a consultant for international digital & print news outlets, entertainment information providers, and national marketing agencies. Ms. Kovach spent a decade in New York City as a marketing strategist and researcher working for various magazines & digital properties at Condé Nast Publications, including The New Yorker, Golf Digest, and Golf World. She also helped launch and served as the marketing director at Condé Nast Portfolio, one of the largest print debuts in magazine publishing history. A graduate of Georgetown University, Ms. Kovach started her career as a media relations and logistics aide to Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor.
Ariel Plotek, Ph.D.
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Dr. Plotek oversees Modern and Contemporary art at The San Diego Museum of Art. His main area of expertise is 19th- and 20th-century painting and sculpture. Dr. Plotek has collaborated with contemporary artists such as Ron Nagle and Richard Deacon; taught the history of Modern art at the University of San Diego; and served as the editor of Tabula Quarterly—an online review of exhibitions and books on art. Prior to San Diego, Dr. Plotek worked at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He specialized in Modern art at the University of London, and received his Ph.D. from NYU’s Institute of Fine Art, completing his dissertation in Paris under the aegis of the Sorbonne.
Michael Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of European Art
Dr. Brown oversees the permanent collection of European Art before 1850, organizes related exhibitions, and contributes to the Museum’s provenance research and art-acquisition programs. His main area of expertise is painting in Spain and the Hispanic Americas. While completing his doctoral dissertation at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts on 17th- and 18th-century Spanish Colonial portraiture, Brown served as the Mayer Curatorial Fellow and subsequently postdoctoral Research Associate at the Denver Art Museum. Dr. Brown has taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Denver and is the author of numerous articles on Spanish portraiture and the history of collecting Hispanic art. His recent exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art include Divine Desire: Printmaking, Mythology, and the Birth of the Baroque, Venetian Views, and Brueghel to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Grasset Collection.
Diana Y. Chou, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Asian Art
Dr. Chou oversees the Museum’s significant collection in East Asian art, Indian manuscripts, and Persian art. With expertise spanning Chinese and Japanese art from medieval to modern periods, her prior curatorial experience includes organizing exhibitions at the Cleveland State University Art Galleries and Dayton Art Institute in Ohio, and at the National Museum of History and Museum of World Religions in Taipei. Dr. Chou also served as an art consultant for the Luce Foundation–funded ASIANetwork’s projects in Asian art. At the San Diego Museum of Art, she curated Modern Japan: Prints from the Taisho Era (1912–1926) & Beyond. She was twice recipient of Summer Institute grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the Silk Road and Indian art. Her most recent fellowships were awarded by the National Museum of Korea (2017) and the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art (2017). Dr. Chou also taught at several academic institutions, including Boston University, John Carroll University, and the University of California, San Diego. She received her M.A. in Japanese Art History from Northern Illinois University and her Ph.D. in Chinese Art History from the University of Kansas. Her publications include a book, several essays on Chinese painting and collecting tastes of the 13th to 14th centuries in China and Japan, and encyclopedia entries on contemporary Asian Art.