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Graycliff hires new executive director: Western New York native Anna Kaplan tapped to manage historic Frank Lloyd Wright property

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Thu, Jan 9th 2020 02:45 pm

The Graycliff Conservancy announced the appointment of local arts and culture authority Anna Kaplan as new executive director of Graycliff.

A press release said, “Kaplan brings her entrepreneurial skills and enthusiasm to Graycliff, adding a layer of strategy to the organization, with the intention of raising the visibility for the site, nationally and internationally. Under her leadership, Graycliff will transition from a place of restoration to a tourist destination.”

“The Graycliff board is confident that with her strong background and visible presence in the community, Anna is a perfect fit to accomplish the goals of the conservancy,” said Charles Le Fevre, Graycliff’s board president. “Those goals include an increase in visitors to the site, overseeing a capital campaign to build a new visitor center, and assisting in docent and volunteer recruitment, among other day-to-day duties of managing a property that is on the National Register of Historic Places and a New York state historic landmark.”

Kaplan comes to Graycliff after building and growing two businesses over the past six years: Anna Kaplan Contemporary (formerly BT&C Gallery), a private gallery project owned and operated by Kaplan; and Resource:Art, a collaborative art consultancy with two other Western New York gallerists (Emily Tucker of Benjaman Gallery and Elisabeth Samuels of Indigo Art).

“After establishing two businesses, I’m excited to be a part of a machine that’s already in motion, to which I can bring my creativity, skillset and enthusiasm,” she said. “I’ll have to close the doors of my gallery (Anna Kaplan Contemporary), but I’m grateful that Resource:Art will remain active and continue initiatives such as ‘The Corridors Gallery’ at Hotel Henry and ‘PLAY/GROUND.’ My larger goal has always been to make an impact in this community, and I’m thrilled to be able to do that now as a steward of Graycliff.”

Born and raised in Buffalo, Kaplan returned to the area to pursue her dream of opening a contemporary art gallery after spending some time in New York City. She holds an MA in the history of decorative arts, design history, and material culture from the Bard Graduate Center, along with a BA in art history and Italian studies from Brown University.

Kaplan is former curatorial assistant at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where she also served as project manager of the major multivenue regional exhibition “Beyond/In Western New York” 2007. Additionally, she is former adjunct professor in Daemen College’s visual and performing arts department.

Her foray in commercial gallery work began when she launched BT&C Gallery (Body of Trade and Commerce Gallery) in 2013, opening in a physical gallery space at 1250 Niagara St., in 2014. The gallery rebranded in 2017 and opened as Anna Kaplan Contemporary in a newly renovated space at the same address. Most recently, she conceived and executed the now annual event “PLAY/GROUND” (in 2018 and 2019), where dozens of artists/artist collaborations take over a former school building in Medina with site-specific installations over one weekend (www.artplaygroundny.com). 

Graycliff had a significant year, which included the following accomplishments:

  • Completion of the restoration of the interiors of both the main house and adjacent “Foster House”
  • Replanting of historic landscape to the 1931 design
  • Recipient of two preservation awards from local and state groups in recognition of the completion of the property’s interior restoration, as well as the meticulous craftsmanship and faithful adherence to the architect’s original plans and vision, including: Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s 2019 Preservation Award for “Outstanding Project (less than 10,000 SF)” and Preservation League of NY State’s “Excellence in Historic Preservation Award”
  • The Western New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recognized CJS Architects for its work at Graycliff

For more information, visit http://www.experiencegraycliff.org/ or call 716-947-9217.

Graycliff is the summer home of Isabelle and Darwin D. Martin, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1926 and 1931. 

The nonprofit Graycliff Conservancy Inc., a 501(c)(3), was founded in 1997 to acquire, preserve and restore the property. Graycliff is located at 6472 Old Lakeshore Road, Derby.

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