The Center for Exploratory & Perceptual Arts (CEPA) has announced that it has named Véronique Côté as its new Executive Director & Chief Curator. Côté, who is a Quebec native, completed her MFA at SUNY Buffalo in 2006. It was during that time that she became intimate with this city’s art scene. It turns out that Big Orbit gallery is where she held her first serious post-academia show, which is interesting in that the gallery recently merged to CEPA. That merging will help to further fortify the Buffalo cultural institution as a multi-faceted art destination, equipped with three galleries, an open-access darkroom, and digital photo lab.
One of the goals of CEPA is to bring onboard ‘working artists’ to fill the Executive Director position. Côté’s own work is described as “interdisciplinary, combining alternative textiles, sculpture, and photography to create visual narratives that highlight the paradox of contemporary American culture.”
Côté is only the second woman to hold the executive director role at CEPA following Gail Nicholson’s tenure from 1988 to 1992.
Right out of the gate, Côté will be focusing on three show openings and funding procurement, while gearing up for the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2024. She will also be busy re-acclimating to Buffalo – previous to her return, she held a position at the prestigious Pérez Art Museum leading the Museum Management Internship & Leadership program.
“I couldn’t be happier to be in Buffalo, and contributing to the continued growth of the local arts community” said Côté, who holds an MA in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BIA from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi. “My first serious show outside of academia was at Big Orbit (recently merged to CEPA) and I’ve always wanted to get back to Buffalo, my first American love.”
Côté will be focused on creating financial stability and capacity building for CEPA, as well as creating more paying opportunities and inclusive placemaking for artists in Buffalo.
Côté is now enthusiastically filling the rather large shoes of former Executive Director, Lawrence Brose, who retired at the end of 2020. A 4-month national search, conducted by a committee that was composed of board members, former directors, and staff, led to Côté’s hiring. Lauren Tent, Education Director and Acting Interim Executive Director, noted that the pool of applicants was impressive, per the quality and diversity of the candidates.
“The search committee had a wonderfully talented group to choose from, but we were confident that Véronique was going to bring the right energy to CEPA. We’re thrilled to have her join us,” said Trent.
The hiring of Côté is just another cultural milestone in a string of recent success stories in the Buffalo art world, which includes a slew of gallery openings. Add to that, the AK360 Campus Development and Expansion Project that is underway, and a refreshing public art initiative being spearheaded by the Albright-Knox, and we’ve got a perfect storm brewing for an expressive reawakening that we can all look forward to, and fully embrace.
It’s a good time to be an artist in Buffalo.
CEPA’s mission is to foster the exploration of photography and contemporary visual art to nurture creativity and to encourage active learning.
CEPA | 617 Main Street | Main Office, Suite 201 | Buffalo, NY 14203 | (716) 856-2717
Lead image: Véronique Côté pictured (socially distanced) with team members Ruby Merritt and Lauren Tent. Team members not present: Lynda Kaszubski and Elizabeth Williams. | Photo by Douglas Levere