Michael Hardwick has resigned as executive director of the Linda Pace Foundation after one year in the job. No formal announcement was made about his departure, which comes as the organization is working to complete a $16 million art museum and separate operations facility near Southtown.
Hardwick stepped down Oct. 20 “to have greater flexibility as the primary caregiver for a family member,” stated Kelly O’Connor, head of collections and communications for Pace Foundation, in an email. She declined to provide further details, and all mention of Hardwick has since been removed from the foundation’s website.
Hardwick was expected to “play an integral role” in the organization ahead of the new Ruby City Museum, according to a news release distributed by the foundation last year announcing his position. “[Hardwick is] a longtime San Antonio resident with decades of experience in internal audit, finance, and corporate security.”
Before leading the foundation, Hardwick was vice president of internal audit at Rackspace.
Ruby City, a 14,000-square-foot gallery at 150 Camp St., broke ground in May and “is well underway and will continue as planned” to open in mid-2019, O’Connor stated. The $16 million gallery will host the personal collection of Linda Pace, the art patron, philanthropist, and heiress to Pace Foods that started the nonprofit before her death in 2007.
The foundation released a rendering Wednesday of its new facility on the eastern corner of the foundation’s campus at 1203 South Flores St., which is slated to open in May 2018. The existing building will be renovated to serve as the operations support center for the entire campus, including Ruby City.
“Michael was a valuable contributor to the [Pace Foundation] during his one year tenure and the trustees and I are fully supportive of his personal decisions,” Rick Moore, Pace Foundation president, stated in an email to the Rivard Report. The board of trustees will guide the organization through its current phase of renovation, development, and daily operations, he added.
After Moore left the executive director post in 2010, the nonprofit has been led by Steven Evans, Fairfax Dorn, Maura Reilly, Kathryn Martin, and Hardwick in various capacities.
Asked if such turnover at the top position is unusual in the field, Moore stated, “Finding a qualified individual who is willing to fully embrace the specific and directed mission that Linda specified to the [board] has always proved challenging. … Linda was quite specific about the creation of Ruby City and her desire to introduce a new exhibition model in San Antonio focused on contemporary art and artists.”
Her mission is a “daily touchstone” for the foundation, he said.
Turnover in leadership is not new to San Antonio arts institutions. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and Artpace, a residency and exhibitions nonprofit started by Pace in 1995 that is becoming more independent from the foundation, has hired several new leaders in recent years.