Publicist Anne Wrinkle
PUBLICIST ANNE WRINKLE
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