Courtesy Business of Art Center
Former curator Patrick Bohnen.
Earlier this week, Patrick Bohnen
announced he will be leaving his position as curator and gallery manager at the Business of Art Center
Bohnen was hired
last December, after interning at the BAC since April of 2012. The then 23-year-old picked up where Liz Szabo
left off, who left the BAC after four years. Upon his hiring, executive director Natalie Johnson
called Bohnen "fearless, collaborative" and that he works well with others.
However, in the months that followed, Bohnen says he felt increasingly overworked with little time to devote to gallery curation.
He says things only got worse after Black Cat Books
— Johnson's pre-BAC business that functioned inside the Manitou Springs building for several months after she took over as ED — closed. The bookstore had helped stabilize gallery hours and equipped the entire establishment with greeters. The bookstore and the BAC were separate entities, but given their identical operating hours, and location, bookstore employees could serve both.
With it's closure though, Johnson says she needed staff up front, with set hours. Bohnen says the BAC staff was stretched even thinner and anger arose between the staff and Johnson as they discussed new building hours.
"In the past, he never had a set schedule and that now, unfortunately, that is a thing of the past," she says. "Whoever replaces him will have hours and days that they're also staffing and maintaining the galleries in a way that the previous person, Patrick, didn't have to do.
"And we couldn't have predicted it," she adds. "I wouldn't have predicted that Black Cat was going to go and that the galleries would no longer be kept open by a different organization."
For his part, Bohnen says he has no clear plans on what to do next. As far as the BAC, Johnson will look to make a new hire after the first of the year. With the gallery schedule planned well in advance, she says she's taking the time to reevaluate the position.
Johnson's restructuring much of the BAC, in fact. Bohnen had told the Indy
that staff has dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last month, and while that's true, Johnson says, it "sounds more dramatic than it is." Two employees — one who handled events, the other membership — have quit, while the departure of others, Johnson says, was mutually agreeable.
"Each of these losses or changes, it was the perfect thing for everyone," she says. "It was the best thing for the BAC and by far the best thing for them, and each one was a completely different circumstance than the last.
"I think the other piece is, whenever a new director comes on, they come in knowing less than everyone else in the room, and there's that time where you're almost equal to everyone while you're figuring everything out. And then there's that transition when I do actually become their boss. ... I think that happens every time there's a transition like that in a small organization like this."
The BAC is moving forward either way. Currently, Johnson's building two part-time positions, one to handle PR and the website, the other to plan events and handle other administrative work.