Turning down Washington University’s offer of a fully funded PhD, under the guidance of one of the foremost scholars in American art, has turned out to be Kathleen Reckling’s best career move. She decided instead to “stay connected to the artistic community of New York”—and it has paid off. Since joining ArtsWestchester in 2011, she has helped strengthen the gallery’s visual arts programming (up to six original exhibits each year) through an expanded roster of artists, new veins of support, additional community and business partnerships, and larger audiences. In April 2014, Reckling recorded her biggest career milestone: ArtsWestchester won a coveted federal grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its Crossing Borders: Memory and Heritage in a New America exhibit; Reckling was both grant writer and curator of the exhibit.
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• Reckling earned both bachelor’s (major: economics-philosophy, minor: art history) and master’s (art history, American art pre-1914) degrees from Columbia University.
• One of her earliest art-world positions was as a curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. “I handed out cocktail napkins at fundraising auctions for private foundations run by top collectors,” she says.
• On a typical day, she’s as likely to be unpacking crates and yielding power tools (for hanging artwork) as she is meeting with artists and executives or giving media tours.
• Most defining traits: “I’m adaptable—while I love to have a plan for everything, I realize that every plan is subject to the real world. When my ducks fall out of line, I go with the flow. And I’m not afraid of challenges or a risk. My first response to most ideas/challenges is: Okay, we can handle this. Let’s figure out how we’ll make it work.”