Pilar Tompkins Rivas
Pilar Tompkins Rivas

Pilar Tompkins Rivas Joins the Board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts

Los Angeles, CA. (May 4, 2021) — The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts announced today that curator Pilar Tompkins Rivas has joined its board of directors, which also includes Stephanie Barron, Miwon Kwon, Catherine Opie, Claire Peeps, Ed Rada, Gary Simmons, and Joan Weinstein.

“Pilar is such an important figure in both the Los Angeles arts community and the broader art world," says Claire Peeps, Acting Board Chair. “We are thrilled to welcome her to the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. She is full of ideas and insight, and we look forward to collaborating with her as we move into what we anticipate will be a more hopeful chapter for the arts.”

Tompkins Rivas is chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Previously, she served as director and chief curator at the Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) at East Los Angeles College, where she spearheaded partnerships between the museum and the Smithsonian; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. She also launched programs that increase diversity in the museum field, including a museum studies certificate program. Prior to her tenure at VPAM, Tompkins Rivas was coordinator of curatorial initiatives at LACMA, co-directing the institution’s UCLA-LACMA Art History Practicum Initiative and the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program, in addition to co-curating exhibitions in conjunction with the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative. She also served as a curator and director of artist-in-residence programs at 18th Street Arts Center, arts project coordinator at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, and curator of the Claremont Museum of Art. She is completing a PhD in cultural studies and holds an MA in cultural studies from Claremont Graduate University.

“I am honored to join the board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. The Foundation’s commitment to supporting innovative and challenging exhibitions and projects is critical to the ecosystem of our arts community, and reflective of the ethos of Mike Kelley’s practice. The Foundation’s important work supports new generations of trailblazing artists and arts organizations, connecting the importance of Kelley’s legacy with new paths being forged in the realm of contemporary art. I am proud to join their efforts.”

“In addition to her deep knowledge of contemporary art, Pilar is expert at fostering collaboration by bringing people and institutions together, and this will be critical as we start to repair from this past year,” said Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Her voice and guidance will be invaluable as the Foundation determines the best ways to support the Los Angeles arts community and its artists. We are honored to have her join the board.”

Founded in 2007 by artist Mike Kelley, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts advances the artist’s spirit of critical thinking, risk taking, and provocation in the arts. Led by Executive Director Mary Clare Stevens, the Foundation seeks to further his philanthropic work through grants, such as the Artist Projects Grants to arts organizations and artists for innovative projects that reflect Kelley’s multifaceted artistic practice. This year, in response to the pandemic, the Foundation awarded its first Organizational Support Grants, which were conceived to address the immediate needs of Los Angeles arts organizations contending with the devastating effects of COVID-19. Totaling $400,000, the grants provide unrestricted funding for eighteen small to mid-size Los Angeles organizations to help them maintain their daily operations.

In addition to this year’s Organizational Support Grants, the Foundation was a contributor to the national fund Artist Relief, which was formed to provide immediate relief for artists affected by COVID-19. It was also part of a group of funders for the Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists led by the California Community Foundation together with the J. Paul Getty Trust, in collaboration with a coalition of artist-endowed foundations to support local artists who are struggling as a result of the pandemic.