Introducing… Jean Ann Durades
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Introducing… Jean Ann Durades

Jean Ann Durades

Why is it important to you to be a Walker member?

My life is built around culture. Because the Walker is a center for art, not just a museum, it fills all the holes—film, dance, theater, visual art, even food.

You’ve been a Friend-level member since 2005. What prompted you to upgrade?

It is important for me to back those that provide me with what I love. And when I travel, I also get into other museums free. Last winter, for instance, I went skiing in Oregon and stopped at the Portland Art Museum on my way home.

How do you take advantage of your membership?

I am a culture hound, so I go to whatever the Walker has to offer. And I’ve been a part of the Contemporary Arts Forum program for years.

In September 2012, we’re transitioning Contemporary Arts Forum, which was only available to higher level members, to Art School, open to all members. What are you looking forward to about this new program?

Giving all members access is a great idea. I need some guidance to understand contemporary art, unless it is film, dance, or performance. With Contemporary Arts Forum, I found it so helpful to have a live person guiding me through looking at objects, and learning what artists were looking at and thinking about when making them. Since that is the goal of Art School too, I know I will like it.

What is your favorite Walker memory?

I have so many! Among them, watching Bill T. Jones in performance and witnessing the breadth of his talent; seeing Harry Belafonte; the work of Robert Colescott …

As an avid arts patron, how else are you involved in the Twin Cities scene?

I usher for six venues and go to virtually every dance performance in town. I enjoy Mixed Blood Theatre and the Pillsbury House and also love music, especially jazz. I am at the Dakota two or three times a week—recently it was four times! I go regularly to Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra performances, and am looking forward to the Minnesota Opera next season. I am a mentor for Ananya Dance Theater and Obsidian Arts, and am working with the African American Museum to help build their guide program. I have been a guide in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Collection in Focus program since its inception in 1999.

And, my walls are covered with art. I started collecting in the early ’60s. I bought my first piece in New York directly from the artist and still purchase that way as much as possible. Although I started with African American artists, I now have pieces by African, Native American, and Asian artists as well. Some of these pieces were recently included in an exhibition by Obsidian Arts.

That’s an amazing roster of activities! Have you always been this keen on the arts?

Yes, but when I retired, I started volunteering. Being involved in the arts has been one of the most satisfying parts of my life. It has expanded my appreciation of beauty. Even when I don’t understand a work, I appreciate the creativity that went into making it.

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