Visual Arts

Locust Projects’ new director is no stranger to Miami

Lorie Mertes has been named executive director at Miami’s Locust Projects. The appointment begins May 5, 2017.
Lorie Mertes has been named executive director at Miami’s Locust Projects. The appointment begins May 5, 2017.

A familiar face is returning to Miami to lead one of the city’s pioneering alternative art spaces.

Lorie Mertes, most recently director of public programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, has been named executive director of Locust Projects. The appointment is a homecoming; From 1994 to 2006, Mertes served as curator and assistant director at the Miami Art Museum (now Pérez Art Museum Miami). She first moved to Miami in 1993 as gallery manager of the Jason Rubell Gallery, then in Miami Beach.

She replaces Chana Budgazad Sheldon, who has led Locust Projects for the past eight years.

Mertes’ appointment comes as the not-for-profit Locust prepares to celebrate its 20th year, in 2018. Founded in Wynwood by Miami-based artists Elizabeth Withstandley, Westen Charles and COOPER, Locust moved to the Design District in 2009. It has retained its focus on cutting-edge artists, both local and international.

“Locust Projects has grown exponentially over the years, both in operations and in influence, so we’re excited to entrust the future success of the space to such a qualified figure in the arts,” Locust Projects chair Debra Scholl said, via a statement.

Ivan Toth Depeña's show “The Moment” at Locust Projects in Miami in 2016. Shannon Kaestle

Mertes said Locust will continue signature programs including Locust Art Builders (LAB), a collaboration with Miami-Dade high school students; exhibitions; and Locust’s lecture series with visiting directors and curators. She will seek to bring new programs as well.

“I’m beyond excited to come back to a city I adore to guide a much-beloved and significant arts organization to the next level,” Mertes said, via a statement. Her appointment begins May 5.

Previously, Mertes served as Interim Director of Programs at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, North Carolina, and director and chief curator of The Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia.