In two moves that the City of Palo Alto hopes will revitalize its arts programs, new directors have been chosen for the Palo Alto Children's Theatre and the Palo Alto Art Center, the city's Division of Arts & Sciences announced today.
Judge Luckey, founding artistic director of Youth Theatre Company in Atlanta, Ga., is the new Children's Theatre director. Karen Kienzle, an assistant director and curator at de Saisset Museum, will start on Monday as director of the Art Center.
Current Art Center Director Linda Craighead has been promoted to the division director for the city's Arts and Sciences Division.
Luckey is the third artistic leader of the Children's Theatre, following the retirement of longtime director Pat Briggs last year. He will be responsible for the overall artistic vision and management of the 77-year-old organization.
Luckey is a member of Actor's Equity and the Screen Actors Guild and has appeared in numerous stage productions with professional companies.
A designated master teacher in theater arts, he has directed and conducted workshops at educational institutions and regional, national and international conferences. Since 1992, he has served as a casting associate on films, including "Sweet Home Alabama," "Drumline," the HBO film "Boycott," "A Lesson Before Dying" and "Warm Springs," both recipients of Emmy Awards.
Luckey has a master's degree in theater and music from the University of Michigan and is trained as an actor, dancer and singer. He has directed successful theater productions at the elementary, middle, high school and collegiate levels, according to the city. For several years he served as the theater-department chair for the Georgia Governor's Honors Program, developing "process-based" arts training for gifted high school students.
"I am humbled, excited and deeply honored to be appointed director of the Children's Theatre. There is no question that Children's Theatre has played a vital role in the education of Palo Alto's youngest citizens. I am thrilled to build on that legacy and lead Children's Theatre into the future, creating a home for the next generation of children who will redefine and revitalize Children's Theatre for the community," he said in a press release.
"I am very impressed with the city's overall commitment to the arts, and I plan to work closely with the Friends of Palo Alto Children's Theatre and other organizations to examine how Children's Theatre can further involve the entire community. Our goal is to make theater that genuinely engages a young audience and nurtures creativity vital for navigating the contemporary world."
Kienzle spent seven years at the de Saisset Museum, one of only three museums accredited by the American Association of Museums in the South Bay Area. Kienzle managed the exhibition program for the museum as assistant director for exhibitions, education, and community outreach and curator of exhibits and collections. She established a record of creating and scheduling scholarly and thought-provoking, yet accessible, exhibitions, bringing the work of artists of national and international acclaim to Santa Clara University, according to the press release.
At the de Saisset Museum, she also initiated collaborations with organizations such as the India Community Center and the Japanese American National Museum.
Prior to her appointment at de Saisset, Kienzle worked as assistant curator and curatorial assistant at the San Jose Museum of Art. She has held curatorial intern positions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Oakland Museum of California and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
She received her bachelor's degree in the history of art from U.C. Berkeley and her master's in museum studies from San Francisco State University.
"As a former Palo Alto Art Center employee and volunteer, the opportunity to return to this organization in a leadership role represents both a homecoming and an exciting new venture in my professional career.
"In its more than 30-year history, the Palo Alto Art Center has demonstrated excellence in its exhibitions, children's programs, interpretation, and hands-on studio education. I look forward to the exciting opportunity to lead this vital organization, continuing its strong tradition of civic and community engagement," she said.
Craighead said she leaves her position in good hands and is looking forward to her broader responsibilities.
"It's an opportunity to work with three Palo Alto treasures (Children's Theatre, the Art Center and Palo Alto Children's Museum and Zoo) and to grow them in difficult times. I'm very excited about the great new ideas and visions of working with these two directors," she said.