Best Arts Administrator St. Louis 2002 - Brent Benjamin, St. Louis Art Museum
This is a surprise selection -- even to us. St. Louis Art Museum director Brent Benjamin drives media types crazy. Handsome, charming, eminently knowledgeable -- you walk out of an interview with Benjamin and figure you've got really good stuff. But, back in your office, you read your notes over and realize he didn't reveal a thing. Nobody keeps SLAM business as close to his vest as well as Benjamin. He's not one to awaken the city with bold pronouncements or declarations of a new vision for the old treasure on Art Hill. His steady composure undoubtedly is one of the reasons he got hired. We have to remind ourselves: He's not there for us crazy media types. SLAM has become a much better place to visit since Benjamin came. There have been some fabulous exhibitions -- Wonderland, Vincent van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard, Kelly/Matisse, the Gentileschis -- and although Benjamin didn't plan these, he gave his curators and staff the funds to make the shows look brilliant. Friday night at the museum has turned into a spot for a hot art date -- a way to start the weekend cozy with your honey in front of the beheading of Holofernes. Oh baby. And it's free. So whenever you figure out what that new wing to the old museum is going to look like, and how much it's going to cost, we're sure you'll let us know, BB. For now, SLAM's an even more delicious pleasure than before. Thanks.
Honorable mentions: Randy Adams, for helping bring in the bucks to keep the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra playing; Cliff Froehlich, for combining business sense and artistic sensibility at the St. Louis International Film Festival.