Tania is in charge of approximately 5,000 pieces of art.
Her three favorite pieces of art:
1. “Entity #3” by Fritz Scholde
2. “Woodland Creature”
3. “The Skeptic” by local artist Duane Mickelson
Spotlight: What made you want to leave the big city life and return to Fargo?
Blanich: This is a great job. You don’t often get the opportunity to run such a long-standing institution in a community. It felt like a great challenge to preserve and forward Jim O’Rourke’s legacy.
Spotlight: Your mom was very involved in art. What sort of impact did she have on you?
Blanich: It was a huge impact. She started the FM Community Theatre and helped run the Halbeisen School of Dance. There was always art by local artists on the wall. When we traveled, we bought art. It really set the stage for my sister and I to become involved in the arts. We’ve always had that as part of our lives.
Spotlight: Is there one moment that you remember that got you first interested in art?
Blanich: I just grew up with it. It was just a way of life in our house.
Spotlight: You’ve had some great jobs. What do you find working here in Fargo that you couldn’t find at those other places?
Blanich: The easy answer is: I get to be the boss. (Laughs) I think museums face a lot of challenges in how to reach new audiences while paying attention to their loyal audiences. That’s an interesting challenge… It’s exciting for me.
Spotlight: Of all your jobs, which has been your favorite?
Blanich: I didn’t know it but this is my dream job. (Laughs) I’m not just saying it. I’ve had some great jobs. I mean, my God, I have a Miró in my office. (Laughs) There’s a couple of George Pfeiffer’s. I’m doing OK.
Spotlight: What are the biggest challenges the Rourke Museum faces?
Blanich: I think it’s both attracting and maintaining new audiences and, as with any non-profit entity, it’s about raising money and having people understand the value of this really amazing collection of art at their fingertips. The other big challenge is that we inherited 1,500 pieces of art from Jim (O’Rourke) and we have 3,500 pieces. So, getting through our inventory is huge for us. It’s a little like Christmas everyday.
Spotlight: What changes can we expect to happen under your belt?
Blanich: For one thing, I’m going to take the fence down. I’ve started something called “The De-Fence Fund.” The fence is a physical barrier. I hear a lot of people say, “I didn’t think this place was open.” It’s about more than taking down the fence. It’s about, how can we take down the barriers that stop people from enjoying art and experiencing it. A museum isn’t a place to be intimidated by. We want to create an environment where people feel welcome. I think that is partially how we need to think about how we program what’s here and how we present the work so that there may be better material for informational purposes. We will be revamping the permanent collection once we know what’s in it… A goal of ours is to showcase the permanent collection on an ongoing basis. You know, there’s stuff you always want to keep out. People always want to see the Warhol, but there’s more than that. We need to strike the balance between the things people love to see and the things we have.
Spotlight: Talk about the art scene in Fargo-Moorhead.
Blanich: It’s pretty diverse and very broad. All of the art forms are represented. We have a really wonderful mix of long-standing instiutions and brand new ones. That’s exciting to see. I believe the more, the merrier. I really don’t believe that any of us are in competition. We are in terms of, oh gosh, if you’re going to a play then you can’t come to my opening. (Laughs) The truth is, the more that there is to do the more we should be sending a message of how important arts are to the community. The success of any arts institution reflects well on every other arts institution.
Spotlight: Do you think the arts scene is stronger than when you were growing up?
Blanich: I think it’s more diverse. Stronger is a funny term…. I think we have a lot more distractions than when I was growing up so I think that’s why the diversity is possible. People are interested in broader ranges of things. They have access to more different things.