By Don Nelson

39NicoleRinggold

Nicole Ringgold Methow Valley News file photo

Confluence Gallery & Art Center in Twisp is looking for a new executive director following last week’s resignation of Nicole Ringgold after three years as the top staff person at the gallery and gift shop on Glover Street.

Ringgold, whose home was recently destroyed in the Rising Eagle Road Fire, said she wants to devote more time to her family as it recovers from the fire, and to her work as a jewelry artist.

Mary Lou McCollum, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors, said the search for a replacement is underway and Confluence plans to begin advertising regionally as soon as possible. The board is reviewing the executive director’s job description, but McCollum said she doesn’t expect much to change.

“We fully understand,” McCollum said of Ringgold’s resignation. “It wasn’t a great surprise.”

Confluence currently has two employees: Ringgold and administrative assistant Kate Posey. Many of the other staffing needs are filled by volunteers.

Confluence joins The Merc Playhouse, its neighbor across the street, in searching for a new executive director. Jane Hubrig recently resigned from the top administrative position at the theater.

Not an easy choice

“Despite the outpouring of support and how much I love Confluence … due to the fact that Confluence needs a strong leader (especially now after this season of disasters) … with my energy ebbing and flowing, I do not feel capable of filling that role,” Ringgold said in a letter sent to community members. “I have made the decision to resign; a choice, but not an easy one.”

“Confluence is 26 years strong,” Ringgold continued in the letter. “It will continue to thrive with your support, and with a dynamic new director. If there’s anything I’m certain about after a month of reeling, it’s that the future of our vibrant gallery is promising.”

Ringgold reiterated those sentiments in an interview. She said that she had intended to stay at the gallery much longer, but the summer’s unforeseen events created an entirely new set of priorities. “This is an opportunity to evaluate where we are in our lives,” she said.

Ringgold said one of the most satisfying aspects of her job has been getting to know and appreciate the local arts community, which she sees as an “intentional” force that is becoming more active and influential.

An opportunity for art

Ringgold said that the community’s challenges create an opportunity for arts-based organizations and nonprofits in general to have an active role in the valley’s overall recovery. She cited the upcoming Phoenix Festival in October as an example of “how the arts community can step up and be of service to the community.”

Ringgold will stay on until a new director is hired and trained, McCollum said.

Although Confluence reduced its paid staffing by two positions in February 2013 to cut expenses, McCollum said that “our finances are in very good shape.”

“We have lost some sales [because of the summer’s fires] but there is some breathing space,” McCollum said. “People have started coming back in.”

McCollum said the gallery’s gift shop has become an important part of Confluence’s operation. The gallery owns its 8,000-square-foot building, which contains both rental apartments and offices.

The 2015 exhibit schedule is already in place thanks the work of the board’s show committee, McCollum said. Ringgold said the schedule includes a fire-related exhibit.