Glen Gentele's specialty in the art world is contemporary sculpture, and, not coincidentally, his passion in life is taking raw materials and molding them into something astounding.
It was that opportunity that prodded him to give up his position as director of Laumeier Sculpture Park - one of the nation's premier open-air museums, located in St. Louis - and relocate to the Sooner State to help shape the direction of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
"I was really impressed with the museum itself and what it had achieved in its long history, but its more recent history, as well," says Gentele, who took over for longtime director Carolyn Hill in January. "What I was interested in was developing and continuing to look to the future in a city that felt, to me, like there was a sense of adventure, work ethic and interest in advancing as a city, institution and, ultimately, as a state."
Gentele comes to the museum at a busy time, as it recently wrapped up its two-and-half-month "Harlem Renaissance" - a 100-piece exhibition that was the museum's first showing of African-American artwork in more than 20 years.
This month, the works of architectural photographer Julius Shulman take center stage. Twenty-one architectural projects from six Oklahoma cities and towns are on display through June in the exhibit "Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered."
The opportunity to take the reins in Oklahoma City was too good of an opportunity for the native New Yorker, who was instrumental in launching Laumeier Sculpture Park's first capital campaign.
"The people here have been really welcoming, thoughtful and forward thinking, and I think, with that mix, it seemed to be a winning proposition for me," Gentele said.
Sustaining the museum's momentum both artistically and financially, particularly during a sluggish economy, will be a top priority for him. Funding for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art comes from a mix of earned income, fund-raising and resource development through contributions from individuals and corporations.