By Tanner Kent
---- — Earlier this year, Ann Rosenquist Fee was attending a college presentation with her son.
As the speaker waxed philosophically about fulfilling potential and realizing dreams, she began taking inventory of her own life. Though the musician, writer, arts advocate and undeniable aesthete said she enjoyed her day job as a director of planning for Minnesota State University's Division of University Advancement, she found the artistic side of her personality wasn't completely satisfied.
Not long after, a friend posted an announcement that the Arts Center of St. Peter was seeking an executive director on her Facebook wall. Rosenquist Fee said she felt right away the opportunity was right.
"This is what I'm aligned with as a lifestyle," said Rosenquist Fee, who officially assumes duties as executive director on Jan. 6. "To do this is a dream."
The announcement comes more than six months after former director David Goldstein departed in May for a position with the Walker Art Center. After the initial search failed to yield a winning candidate, the Art Center's board revised the search parameters and opened a second search.
Working alongside ArtsLab — a program that aims to support urban and rural arts organizations through "leadership and strategy development" — board president Judie Ziemke said the Arts Center was hoping to secure a director who could further the organization's goals of further connecting with the community and "making art a conversation in everyday life."
With Rosenquist Fee, Ziemke said, the Arts Center found an ideal candidate.
"I know Ann, and I know what she's done," Ziemke said. "We were so happy when she applied."
Rosenquist Fee's resume certainly covers a lot of ground.
As a professional, she was a grant writer for the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber orchestras before she became director of publications at MSU and editor of its TODAY magazine. In 2010, she moved to the previously mentioned position in the Division of University Advancement.
Furthermore, she has left her imprint on fine arts both locally and across the state through her service on non-profit boards and arts committees. For instance, she was chair of the search committee that hired Ken Freed as the conductor of the Mankato Symphony Orchestra in 2005, and she's been a frequent presenter and panelist for the Minnesota State Arts Board.
An accomplished artist in her own right, Rosenquist Fee represents half of the crowd-pleasing folk duo The Frye and is a sought-after essayist and creative writer whose byline has appeared everywhere from Minnesota Parent magazine to health blogs and literary journals.
She said her vision for the Arts Center will be collaborative with and conscientious of the work of other area arts organizations. At the same time, however, Rosenquist Fee said she wants to elevate the status of south-central Minnesota artists in the wider dialogue about fine arts in Minnesota.
"There are a lot of people who have decided to create here, and be inspired here," Rosenquist Fee said. "They don't live here just because it's close to the Cities. They want to be here, in this place."