Pub­li­cist Anne Wrin­kle


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When jour­nal­ists need to know what’s go­ing on at SITE Santa Fe, they call Anne Wrin­kle. She has all the in­for­ma­tion on up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tions and events, or knows where to get it. If a news­pa­per needs im­ages, Wrin­kle finds them. She also co­or­di­nates in­ter­views and pro­vides sup­ple­men­tal ma­te­ri­als like books or films. If she’s scram­bling, though, you’d never know it. As SITE’s di­rec­tor of ex­ter­nal af­fairs, Wrin­kle’s style is to make the process ap­pear seam­less.

“You should see me push­ing the but­tons of the staff around here,” she said. “How many pieces are in the show? Who did what, where, when, and how? Why is this sig­nif­i­cant and why is it be­ing done here, now? How is it dif­fer­ent from or sim­i­lar to other things that we did 15 years ago? I take that and break it down, make it more ac­ces­si­ble. Some­times I have to ask ques­tions be­fore the staff knows the an­swers, but set­ting all this up well makes it eas­ier for peo­ple to do their jobs.”

SITE Santa Fe, a non­col­lect­ing con­tem­po­rary art space, opened in an old beer ware­house in the Rai­l­yard District in 1995 with its first in­ter­na­tional bi­en­nial. Wrin­kle joined the staff in 2001, af­ter work­ing in a sim­i­lar ca­pac­ity at The Draw­ing Cen­ter in New York City. At first, she wasn’t sure she wanted to leave Man­hat­tan for the South­west. “I’d be­come so pro­vin­cial, so tun­nel-vi­sioned. I could only imag­ine work­ing in New York.”

When she landed in Al­bu­querque for the first time, she ex­pected to see ma­jor bill­boards in the air­port be­cause, as she put it, “I thought SITE was the big­gest game in town.” It would take a few more years for the con­tem­po­rary art space to find its niche in a mar­ket known for Na­tive art, South­west­ern land­scapes, and cow­boy kitsch. (There is now a bill­board for SITE on In­ter­state 25.)

Wrin­kle is orig­i­nally from Birm­ing­ham, Alabama. She moved to New York in the 1980s to earn a mas­ter’s de­gree in art his­tory from Hunter Col­lege. She was plan­ning to be­come a cu­ra­tor and to that end, she in­terned at the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art and the Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art. But she be­gan to view the ca­reer path as a “long slog” in which there was never enough fund­ing or re­sources. She took a po­si­tion with a cre­ative mar­ket­ing firm that had both cor­po­rate and non­profit clients and re­al­ized “how fast you could get things done when you ac­tu­ally had a bud­get.”

She found that she en­joyed trans­lat­ing the mes­sages of art ex­hi­bi­tions for the gen­eral pub­lic, as well as see­ing first­hand the im­pact of fundrais­ing in the art world, which can at­tract at­ten­tion to wor­thy causes like en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism and med­i­cal re­search. Her art his­tory ed­u­ca­tion has been key to her suc­cess be­cause press cov­er­age of the art world can run the gamut from ma­jor crit­i­cal out­lets like ARTnews and Art­fo­rum to the travel sec­tion of the Dal­las Morn­ing News. Some jour­nal­ists are not versed in aes­thet­ics or art-speak, and they need — and ap­pre­ci­ate — Wrin­kle’s abil­ity to guide them.

“There are plenty of cu­ra­tors,” she said. “This was a bet­ter chal­lenge and fit for me.”

Me­dia re­la­tions is just part of what Wrin­kle does at SITE. She is in charge of over­all com­mu­ni­ca­tions, over­see­ing graphic de­sign, and man­ag­ing the web­site and so­cial me­dia. “E-blasts, printed pieces like news­let­ters, in­vi­ta­tions for events. Sig­nage, wall la­bels. And ex­ter­nal af­fairs — part­ner­ships in the com­mu­nity,” she ex­plained. The last two years have been es­pe­cially busy. In Novem­ber 2017, the mu­seum re­opened af­ter an ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion, with the Fu­ture Shock ex­hi­bi­tion and a gala. The 2018 bi­en­nial, SITE­lines: Casa tomada, opened in Au­gust. Wrin­kle co­or­di­nated mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions ef­forts through a New York-based firm, Blue Medium, to at­tract na­tional and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion to both events.

“We had the op­por­tu­nity to hire a larger re­source, be­cause we are ba­si­cally in the hin­ter­lands,” she said.

Blue Medium works with SITE on their larger projects to strate­gize the tim­ing of an­nounce­ments, such as re­leas­ing a list of cu­ra­tors for the bi­en­nial, and later, the theme, ti­tle, and names of some key artists. This high-level help is ex­pen­sive, how­ever, and at the be­gin­ning of 2019, Wrin­kle said, the SITE staff is in belt-tight­en­ing mode. But money isn’t ev­ery­thing: Wrin­kle knows from ex­pe­ri­ence that me­dia re­la­tions is re­ally a game of per­se­ver­ance.

“If you have great ex­hi­bi­tions and you get the word out to the right peo­ple in the right amount of time, you get the recog­ni­tion,” she said of no­tice in high­pro­file me­dia like The New Yorker and The New York Times. “It doesn’t al­ways work, but you keep at it . ... That’s the trick.” — Jen­nifer Levin

“If you have great ex­hi­bi­tions and you get the word out to the right peo­ple in the right amount of time, you get the recog­ni­tion.”

Anne Wrin­kle out­side SITE Santa Fe, photo Gabriela Cam­pos/The New Mex­i­can

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