Visual Arts

Arts champion Dennis Scholl to lead ArtCenter/South Florida


Miami artists and arts enthusiasts are getting a powerful new champion.

Dennis Scholl, who created the Knight Arts Challenge and Random Acts of Culture initiatives, has been named president and CEO of ArtCenter/South Florida, one of Miami’s longest-standing arts institutions.

“I love this city and the artists that make it special,” Scholl said in an email interview. “I view this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to help our visual arts community reach for its full potential and take its place on the international stage.”

Scholl will amp up ArtCenter’s long-standing support for local artists by providing affordable studio space, training by local and national artists and groundbreaking exhibitions. According to a release, the ArtCenter will also offer direct support to resident artists, thanks in part to an $88 million endowment created after the 2014 sale of its landmark Lincoln Road building.

The art center continues to operate from a second Lincoln Road address, 924, home to artists’ studios, exhibition space and offices. For the past few years, the organization has also hosted a residency program at 1035 North Miami Ave. and satellite shows throughout the city.

Executive Director Maria del Valle will stay with the organization through the transition before leaving to pursue other opportunities, according to a release.

Spurred by the Miami Beach edition of international art fair Art Basel, Miami has become internationally known as a cultural center — a status that has propelled real estate sales and helped bring millennials and a new “creative class” to the city.

Scholl is perhaps best known for his tenure from 2009 to 2015 as vice president for arts at the Knight Foundation, where he launched the groundbreaking Knight Arts Challenge and Random Acts of Culture initiatives. He left to pursue entrepreneurial interests and his filmmaking career. His cultural documentaries have earned 11 regional Emmy Awards.

In addition, Scholl has served on various boards of the Guggenheim, Tate Modern, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Aspen Art Museum. His wife, Debra Scholl, is chairman of Miami’s Locust Projects.

Since 1984, ArtCenter/South Florida has supported contemporary visual arts in Miami, reaching an audience of about 80,000 people a year.