Jeremy Strick

The Nasher Sculpture Center director on dark optimism, delicious dives and Dallas' sense of possibility

Nasher director Jeremy Strick on Dallas' sense of possibility

Nasher Sculpture Center executive director Jeremy Strick
Jeremy Strick brought his innovative skills to the Nasher Sculpture Center in 2009. Photo by Sylvia Elzafon

Upon the opening of their eponymous museum, Raymond and Patsy Nasher assured the city’s status as a center for world-class art. Yet the Nasher Sculpture Center’s renown as one of the most innovative venues in the United States owes more than a small debt to its visionary director, Jeremy Strick.

A former assistant curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., senior curator at the Art Institute of Chicago and director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, Strick brought his innovative skills to the Nasher in 2009, engaging viewers with such public events as his Sightings series of small-scale exhibitions; the 360: Artists, Critics, Curators monthly lecture series; the acclaimed Soundings music series; and the groundbreaking Xchange program of public art, which opens October 19.

As the Nasher celebrates 10 influential years, Strick promises the next decade will be even more extraordinary, in both its eye-opening shows and democratic approach.

In addition to promising work from “some of the greatest, most recognized national and international artists of their time,” Strick says the venue will build on its “extraordinary public programs. What I’m doing is retaining but also advancing and extending the vision of Raymond and Patsy Nasher. Being inclusive is very much an important part of our vision. We insist on the very best and make it available for everyone.”

Below, the things that motivate, delight and fulfill this dynamic director.

What is your chief characteristic?

Dark optimism. I’ve been around the block one or two times and learned not everything is easy to achieve. I think good things happen in the end, but there are always challenges along the way. To accomplish anything, you have to understand people and their interests and aspirations and motivations.

Your idea of happiness?

Laughing with family and friends.

Your idea of misery?

North Korea. I just happen to have been reading about North Korea; I just read the novel The Orphan Master’s Son. North Korea seems to be so extraordinary and a very particular place, so when I think of misery, that’s what I think of.

Your favorite food and drink?

Ethnic dives. I think the sign of a good ethnic restaurant is it is filled with people who come from that culture. I look for authenticity. I like Louie’s. I love Bambu in Plano and First Chinese BBQ in Richardson. And I love the tamales at La Popular.

Your favorite motto?

I think Groucho Marx said it best: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Your favorite heroes in real life?

Volunteers.

If not yourself, who would you be?

My dad once told me he thought I should have been a director. I told him, “I am a director.”

Your favorite pastime?

The mountains and sea.

What do you love most about Dallas?

Its sense of possibility.

What would you change about the city?

Roads and highways: I’d make them better. For me, it’s really the design — they merge badly, a lane is always disappearing, there’s no shoulders you have to cross. From an engineering standpoint, they’re a hazard.

What makes a true Dallasite?

Warmth, inclusion and commitment.