The board of directors of Denver's Museo de las Américas (861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401, www.museo.org) has announced that Maruca Salazar (pictured), a well-known Colorado artist and arts educator, has been named as the institution's new director. She's only the third chief executive in the museum's nearly twenty-year history. Salazar is married to another noted artist, Daniel Salazar; over the years, the couple has been tireless in promoting Chicano/Chicana art, both locally and nationally.
Salazar was born in Veracruz, Mexico, but she's lived in Denver for more than thirty years. She has a bachelor's degree in fine arts and literature from the Universidad Veracruzana and a master's degree in multicultural education from the University of Colorado in Denver. From 1979 to 2001, she taught art at Horace Mann and Lake middle schools, both in west Denver. Then she became the arts coordinator for Denver Public Schools, administering a multimillion-dollar program aimed at art teachers.
During this time, she has also been a practicing artist with signature work that involves small installations in boxes that relate to both Mexican altars and Joseph Cornell sculptures. Salazar often takes small plastic religious figures and integrates them into miniature settings. Her work has been presented in many art venues, including the Museo — most notably, in the exhibition Never Leaving Aztlan.
"This is the opportunity of a lifetime and a true honor," said Salazar in a written statement. "As an artist and educator, as well as a long time supporter...I am committed to advancing the Museo's legacy."
The Museo was founded in 1991 by José Aguayo, who envisioned it as a place to showcase the art and culture of North and South America. Aguayo stepped down in 2003. The board ran the institution for two years before hiring Patty Ortiz in 2005. In January, Ortiz announced that she was returning to her home town of San Antonio, Texas, to take the reigns of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center there.