Mills Art Gallery Welcomes New Curator
Situated in the trendy Mills Ave area of Orlando, Mills Gallery has been a hub for local arts, culture and events. The gallery is located right on the ground level of The Gallery at Mills Park – an upscale apartment complex on 1650 North Mills Ave. For the past few years, the Mills neighborhood has been an epicenter for nightlife, dining, entertainment and shops. Mills Gallery is directed by Boris Douglas Garbe, who has been dedicated to making Mills Gallery what it is today. As 2020 comes to a close, Park Ave Magazine shares the excitement as the Mills Art Gallery welcomes new curator Jennifer McInnes Coolidge.
How Mills Art Gallery Grew to be One of the Top Galleries in Orlando
Since 2016, Mills Gallery has been managed by Gallerist Boris Douglas Garbe. Boris Garbe is a charismatic personality who has brought the Gallery’s exhibitions and events to life. Boris has organized many various projects and worn many hats throughout his career. From showing the gallery, offering tours and organizing events, Boris adores representing the Gallery. He has found happiness in giving local artists a space to share their work. He insists that his title is “gallerist” and not “curator”, as he does not have a formal education in art. After working in teaching and real estate, he jumped head first in the position of the Gallerist at Mills Gallery. Now, Boris is making room as Mills Art Gallery welcomes new curator Jennifer McInnes Coolidge.
What do you think Jennifer is going to add to Mills Art Gallery in the upcoming year?
Boris: Jennifer McInnes Coolidge is bringing many wonderful qualities to Mills Gallery. Among these are her advocacy for the arts and her years of experience working with artists, arts organizations and communities. However, if you ask me to narrow it down to what exactly excites me most about what she will contribute to our gallery, then I would say it is the fact that her values align themselves very nearly with mine. Like me, she is artist oriented and is always looking to help the artist both define and understand new ways of selling both themselves and their art to the public. Coolidge is also looking to bring new ways of thinking about how to present art in galleries, how to engage an audience with art that they may not understand, and how to help people on their art collecting journey.
Jennifer also brings her power as a contributing taste maker that knows how to showcase and move art. She has a background in sales as well as strategic planning and organizational development. She will bring this business sense to the gallery as we move forward.
Besides being passionate about art, Coolidge has a keen understanding of positive leadership and team work. I have met few people that have the drive and ambition that she exhibits. On top of all, Jennifer is humble, confident, self-aware and refreshingly authentic.
Meet Jennifer McInnes Coolidge: The New Curator of Mills Art Gallery
After some searching, at last Mills Art Gallery welcomes new Curator, Jennifer McInnes Coolidge, Jennifer is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. who has established a career as an arts and non-profit consultant. As a non-profit consultant and curator who has worked for several artists, some of her clients have included: The Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties at University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, Dance Alive National Ballet, Gainesville, FL; Asheville Area Arts Council, Asheville, NC, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY; The National League of American Pen Woman, Washington, DC among others.
For her formal education, Coolidge holds a BA with a concentration in painting from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC and a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from H. Heinz II School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University and completed a fellowship with the Denali Initiative on Social Enterprise through the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“As an incredibly busy person in the arts, I ask myself why put one more thing on my arts plate and my answer is that it is going to be incredibly fun to work with artists and Boris at Mills Gallery. Artists always spark my imagination about a world of possibilities. Boris is one who is open to so many ideas. I love operating in a world of possibilities and ideas.” – Jennifer McInnes Coolidge
Coolidge currently serves as the Director of Philanthropy for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in Orlando, FL. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicated to “enrich, inspire and serve Central Florida through the transformative power of live music”. Jennifer McInnes Coolidge has worked with their team to raise over 2.5 million annually.
In addition to The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Coolidge has also served as an arts administrator for 30 years where she has been Director of Development for the University of Florida, College of the Arts, Executive Director for the Museum of Florida Art in DeLand, FL; Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Art Education and in arts education and curatorial positions for the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL.
How has the pandemic changed the arts in Central Florida? How has it adapted?
Jennifer: One thing, we know for sure, nothing will ever be the same. The pandemic has affected the arts in that we can never do things the same way again.
But the pandemic has become a reminder that we need the arts now move than ever. The arts community has been and is finding new ways of meeting the calling of providing the arts to the public. Whether be it virtually, outside in a parking lot, in a park or inside by appointment.
We in the arts are finding new ways of doing everything. Once we find a new way, we have to evaluate it and ask – did that work? or will it work again? One thing we also know for sure, things will change again and we will have to adapt and come up with yet a new strategy and then another and then another. I do think the arts community has a great creative advantage. It is part of our process to critique and constantly be in a state of innovation and improvement.
For artists and arts organizations in Central Florida and around the state we have an advantage of living in the warmer climate. Because of this, we have been able to provide the arts in ways the rest of the country have not. In order to do that successful and safely, part of adapting is out of the box thinking. As Director of Philanthropy at the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, I never thought I would actually host a gathering of donor at a pole barn but the donors came! And, I have seen such gratitude from people for the opportunity to experience the arts.
What are you looking forward to in 2021 for Central Florida arts and culture?
Jennifer: I am truly looking forward to more people having the chance to experience the healing power of the arts. To me, it means embracing our humanity in one of the best ways we can. That being through experiencing human expression. The pandemic is ultimately teaching us what is important. What it means to be human and part of the human experience is human connection. That being through music sharing, seeing art, storytelling and in dance. I think, we are ready to re-activate our senses through the arts again live and in person. I think we have learned we can reach so many virtually. For so many that are isolated and lonely, this is an important connection and inspiration for them.
Having worked in the arts in different communities, I know artists and arts organizations are key to community building and place activation! When the arts are alive in any place, it is more vibrant and more alive and a place where people gravitate towards.
Fast Facts About Jennifer McInnes Coolidge
- Serves as a Director of Philanthropy for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in Orlando, FL.
- Served on the Board of Directors for the Florida House in Washington, DC; Florida Art Education Association, Florida Music Education Association and served as a member of the Florida Chamber Foundation, Strategic Visioning Caucus.
- Received awards for her leadership in arts, including a Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Music Educators Association and was recognized as a Florida Ambassador of the Arts by past First Lady of Florida, Columba Bush.
- Judged several outdoor art festivals including the Winter Park Art Festival, Mt. Dora Arts Festival and the Ocala Art Festival.
Wrapping Up 2020 and Looking Toward 2021
2020 has been a trying time for Central Florida, but despite that, Mills Gallery has still had a good year. Some of the biggest shows of the year included Kristy Lee & Paul T. Scarborough Present: Unapologetic and It’s Personal…The Works of Harold Garde. Mills Gallery has several events and exhibitions in store for 2021 under the direction of its new curator.
About Mills Art Gallery
The Gallery is located in the Mills Park area of Orlando, and is the first fine art gallery of unique style. Mills Gallery’s mission is centered around the Orlando arts community. That being to provide the highest quality visual arts in a vibrant, inclusive environment. Here, they do more than sell art; they also know the artist. Learn more about Mills Gallery, news, and upcoming exhibitions at www.millsgalleryorlando.com. All press inquiries should be sent to MillsGalleryOrlando@gmail.com. Please note, Mills Gallery does not accept unsolicited artist applications.