Art Center board chair resigns

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By Carol A. Clark

The embattled chairman of The Art Center at Fuller Lodge has resigned.

Phil Kilgour of Chimayo was charged Monday with assault and resigned Tuesday through a letter read by ACFL Attorney Tracey Conner during the board’s general membership meeting in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge.

“It is with the greatest reluctance that I tender my resignation as chairman and board member of the Art Center at Fuller Lodge … Although we are not residents of Los Alamos, we have given of our time and talents to make the Art Center a major contributing organization to this community. The Art Center has improved measurably under my stewardship and has over the past five years gone from a parochial, small town program to one that is now poised for national recognition among community supported art centers in the country.”

In his letter, Kilgour also commends himself, former chair Mary Carol Williams and former director Gloria Gilmore House for working “tirelessly” to make sure that the Art Center is governed by nationally recognized nonprofit standards and the rule of law.

“The revision and review of the Bylaws and the creation of a Standard Operations Manual has put the Art Center at the forefront of art centers in the country,” Kilgour said in his letter.

Kilgour became enraged during a May 19 board meeting when members questioned him about points of order and his ensuing behavior led to Monday’s assault charge, according to police reports and witnesses at that meeting.

In his resignation letter, Kilgour stressed the importance of maintaining a professional governance standard for the ACFL.

“As a licensed non-profit organization, the Art Institute of Chicago and The Art Center at Fuller Lodge are held to the same regulations and standards of performance. All too often, nonprofit organizations succumb to factions and individuals who want to use it for personnel gain, control or ego enhancement,” Kilgour said in his letter. “My adherence to the mission and Bylaws of the Art Center this year as well as the best legal practice for nonprofits has guaranteed that this has not and will not happen. The fact that this letter is being read to you by the Art Center attorney is testimony of my commitment to legal due process as well as the use of a nonprofit consultant who will educate the new board on fiduciary obligation and the principle of due diligence.”

The legacy Kilgour bequeaths to the Art Center, he said in his letter is “a higher professional nonprofit governance standard.”

Once the resignation letter was out of the way, the board spent more than an hour discussing the appropriateness of Kilgour, as chairman, appointing himself to serve on the board’s three-person nominating committee.

The board’s year ends June 30 and some members are terming out or resigning and their seats need filling. Seven applications were received in the last couple of months with only six approved, which did not sit well with several board members including Patricia Kokesh who was the most vocal in expressing her concerns.

In the end, the board voted unanimously to accapt the nominations of the six applicants approved by Kilgour and to accept Moire O’Neill and Greg Kendall for board consideration at its next meeting.

About 90 minutes into Tuesday’s general membership meeting, Board Secretary Maria Theye questioned why the attorney was still present. The thought was that she was there to read Kilgour’s resignation letter and leave.

Conner apparently bills the Art Center $125 or $200 per hour, depending on who is asked. She stayed the entire two hours of the general membership meeting in addition to her time spent at an executive meeting held earlier Tuesday morning.

“If you’ve fulfilled your role than perhaps you should leave,” Theye said.

Conner stayed saying she was there to answer any legal questions that arise.

Acting Chair Susannah Smith is required to convene the new board within a week of the general membership meeting, Conner said.

While formally established in 1977, The Art Center at Fuller Lodge dates back to the early post-war years and the Los Alamos Arts and Crafts Association, and later to the Los Alamos Arts Council and Pajarito Art League.

The Art Center operates a gallery and gallery shop and provides children and adult art classes throughout the year.

It also hosts arts and crafts fairs in August and October and hosts December art sales.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.