With its grand opening less than two weeks away, the Bob Dylan Center has announced Steven Jenkins as its director. He’s moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to oversee the museum’s exhibitions, public programs and daily operations, following more than three decades of work with nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay area
The hiring announcement comes as the BDC prepares for an opening weekend May 5-8 that will include a gala invitational dinner and celebratory concerts by Elvis Costello, Mavis Staples and Patti Smith.
Said Jenkins in a statement, “As an avid listener and fascinated follower of Dylan’s every surprising and illuminating turn, his work has brought me a lifetime of aesthetic pleasures, confounding challenges and profound joy. I am honored and thrilled to take on this dream job, and I thank Steve Higgins [managing director of the American Song Archives, which oversees the BDC] and everyone at ASA for this incredible opportunity.”
Jenkins has held leadership positions at nonprofits in the greater San Francisco area including the University of California Press, Glide Foundation, San Francisco Film Society/San Francisco International Film Festival, Frameline/San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque, Film Arts Foundation and the Ansel Adams Center for Photography. As an arts journalist, Jenkins also served as the editor-in-chief of Artweek and Bay Area Citysearch and a senior editor of See: a Journal of Visual Culture, and has contributed hundreds of articles to publications including New York, Out, California, Detour, SF Camerawork, Photo Op and Publishers Weekly. He’s written or edited books including “City Slivers and Fresh Kills: The Films of Gordon Matta-Clark” and “Model Culture: James Casebere: Photographs.”
The Bob Dylan Center has also made additional announcements about installations and programming. The kickoff weekend is making tickets available to the public for two of the three opening-weekend concerts, to be held at Cain’s Ballroom; although the Stapes show is a private event only for BDC founding members, the general public can buy tickets for the Costello or Smith concerts here.
Among the parts of the museum highlighted in Monday’s announcement are the Church Studio Control Room, sponsored by the Tulsa recording studio of that name, which will allow attendees to do their own mixing of original Dylan recordings that will rotate on a regular basis. The first two that museum-goers can get their hands on for remixing are “I Want You” and “Knockin‘ On Heaven’s Door.“
Meanwhile, the Columbia Records Gallery, sponsored by Dylan’s record company of 60 years, will spotlight individual songs’ history, in depth, starting, upon the facility’s opening, with “Chimes of Freedom,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Jokerman,” “Not Dark Yet,” “Tangled Up In Blue” and “The Man In Me.”
The BDC revealed that patrons will be greeted at the center’s internal entrance with a 16-foot-high abstract metalwork sculpture that designed and built by Dylan at his Black Buffalo Artworks studio. “The decorative elements of the impressively assembled structure reference American industry,” the announcement said.
Information regarding admission to the Dylan Center can be found here.
The Bob Dylan Center and adjacent Woody Guthrie Center are being operated by the American Song Archives, a project of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which acquired Dylan’s archives in 2016 and Guthrie’s four years before that. The facility in Tulsa’s arts district was designed by architectural and exhibit design firm Olson Kundig, with Alan Maskin as its design principal. 59 Productions is working with Olson Kundig on exhibition design and media development.