Linda Cano is stepping down after four years as executive director of the Fresno Art Museum.
Cano will leave the museum at the end of March to run her own arts consulting firm, AXIS Art Consulting. Among her first clients is the city of Fresno, she said, as a consultant on the public art component of the Fulton Mall Reconstruction Project. The mall, which will be reopened to traffic, contains a trove of public art, and Cano will act as liaison between the city and artists as works are moved.
"It's an interesting project because it's a little bit of detective work finding some of the artists and their heirs," she said. She also will be involved in community outreach.
Museum leadership will be assumed by members of the museum's Board of Trustees and museum staff.
In a statement, board president Joe Sciarrone said the museum will look for a new executive director. He also praised Cano's leadership: "She is passionate about our role in the community and her leadership has certainly made the Museum a more welcoming place for an increasingly diverse audience to experience art."
Cano will finish up her work as co-producer of the Fresno Mini Maker Faire on April 12.
She took over the executive director position in 2010 at a time of turmoil for the museum. The Fresno Metropolitan Museum had just closed. The art museum's roof was leaking. Some wondered whether Fresno's sole remaining major museum would be able to survive the economic downturn amid residual bad feelings in the community among donors after the Met's demise.
Under her leadership, she said, the museum expanded its membership, increased its regional and national presence and broadened its exhibition program to engage new audiences -- particularly underserved ones, a priority of hers.
Social issues were high on her agenda. In 2011 she brought a show about homelessness to the museum that included "Whispers From the Streets," which was contributed to by more than 100 McLane High School students. Highlighting works by younger artists was a priority. The 2013 show "Breakthrough," featuring six up-and-coming artists, brought younger crowds through the museum doors.
She also brought the concept of crowd-sourced exhibitions to the museum. The 2013 show "#DowntownVisions" included a gallery of works contributed by community members.
Cano said she had been considering a move for some time.
"I had been thinking of what would come next in my life," she said. "I wanted to do more projects-based work. Going on my own has a certain appeal."