Arte Américas has a new executive director: Arianna Paz Chávez


Arte Américas, which last year hit the funding jackpot by scoring a $7 million state grant, has announced a new leader to forge the next steps for the cultural center. Arianna Paz Chávez, a Fresno native who says she got the art bug from formative years spent at Arte, is the new executive director. She brings a strong art-institution background to the job, including stints at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, the deYoung Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

She takes the helm at a pivotal time for Arte.

The state grant may seem like a windfall — and I’m sure it has supporters dreaming of extensive renovations or even a new building — but $7 million doesn’t go all that far in terms of infrastructure. The cultural landscape is littered with organizations that got too ambitious and expanded too much, too soon. Arte has a decades-long history of scrappy hard work amongst its devoted volunteers, but it’s also had its share of infighting and fiscal distress.


Chávez and her board will need to address some key issues: Does it have the community (and corporate) support to get to the next level? Can it create or land the high-profile exhibitions that will draw visitors from across the state? How can it connect with younger audiences more used to a digital world than the wall of a gallery? How can it grow in a way that keeps the grassroots charm of the place but gives it a higher profile in the artistic world?


Still, I think there’s real potential for a new golden age for Arte. Move over, Los Angeles and Chicago: There’s no reason why a Fresno-based institution can’t become a “leading international Latino Cultural Arts center,” as the mission statement dreams.

The search committee consisted of Elva Rodriguez, a former Arte Américas executive director; Marylou Mendoza-Miller, associate vice president for human resources at Fresno State, and board members Jose Rodriguez, Janie Rostro, and Vivian Velasco Paz.

Here’s the Arte announcement about Chávez:

Welcome back to Fresno, Ms. Chávez.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Leave a Reply