WHO’S WHO 2022: The many sides of Vin Quenneville, Jansen Art Center’s executive director | News

Analytical, creative, energetic

LYNDEN — Vin Quenneville is a numbers man. Working with numbers, however, seems so unusual for a man who grew up wanting to be a musician, then a professional snowboarder, then a mountain biker.

“Over time, I learned that rather than being the person in the public eye, my talents were better served as a supporting role in these fields,” said Quenneville, Jansen’s executive director since 2017.

Although Jansen has a bookkeeper, Quenneville is totally the analytical sort, which Jansen Art Director Lindsey Gerhard explained is good for the person at the top of the mountain.

“He speaks in spreadsheets, but he’s got a keen eye for style and great taste in design,” Gerhard said.

With a strong background in business operations and marketing, Quenneville is “extremely financially savvy and it is in large part due to his prudent budget management and strategic development and oversight of our fundraising that the J is so solid today,” Gerhard said.

“We are able to provide healthy jobs for artists, educators and administrators while also taking creative risks every day, all the while ensuring the organization is not only solvent but thriving,” Gerhard said.

Making sure the numbers work

People may assume the numbers guy is a slave to his desk, always a pencil in hand and a calculator not far away. That’s not the case with Quenneville.

“Vin never walks, he always runs to the next thing,” Administrative Assistant Chloe Smith said. “He keeps the energy high even on days when not much is going on over here. He shares the vision and mission of the art center while seeing things through a lens of maximizing resources and making sure the numbers work.”

A typical day-in-the-life of Quenneville is, well, there is no typical day, he said.

“Every day is different,” he said. “It is generally a mix of supporting staff, spending time with our volunteers and donors, managing finances, and maintaining our facility.”

Quenneville grew up in Connecticut, then spent 15 years in Vermont before he and his family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2012.

Before coming to the Jansen in 2017, Quenneville spent 25-plus years helping small businesses thrive with a focus on motivating and creating strong, productive teams.

Quenneville describes the Jansen as a “vibrant center where the entire community feels welcomed, and artists of all levels have a place to explore their creativity, honor their skills, and feature their work.”

A warm, engaging man, Quenneville explained that the J is “incredibly fortunate to have the talented staff that we do.”

“We all have such different personalities, yet all share a deep passion for our work,” he said. “Lindsey was the perfect partner to bring into our organization. Her skillset compliments mine on so many levels. We both bring different expertise to the table, yet we share the same vision. I am proud to have her as a partner and to be able to step back and watch her guide our teams to carry out our mission.”

At Jansen since mid-2020, Gerhard said that Quenneville is “encouraging, he laughs a lot, and doles out compliments left and right.”

“Vin is so much fun. His passion and dedication for the J and everyone involved here is obvious,” Gerhard said. “He shows up every day ready to lift up his team and the community around us. He knows how important it is to have a healthy, balanced, supportive work environment and he’s fully committed to that.”

Margaret Irvine is responsible for coordinating events, rentals and volunteers at Jansen Art Center. She said recently that one reason she enjoys working for Quenneville is that he’s a decision-maker.

“Many of us have worked for people who are unable or choose not to make decisions,” Irvine said. “Their inability to do so results in wasted time, frustration and angst. Vin gathers information, asks opinions and then decides. Now the decision might not be what we choose, but at least we have the opportunity to move on and go to the proverbial Plan B.”

More often than not, exhibits at the J are open-ended. In fact, not since 2015 had Jansen held a themed exhibit.

On March 4, the Jansen opened its plant-based exhibit. Quenneville explained that Gerhard and the exhibits committee brainstormed on a few different themes for this exhibit.

“Ultimately, they landed on plant-based as it was a great tie into spring,” he said.

With 104 pieces of art on display created by 52 artists, Quenneville and his staff confirmed that the exhibit had its “highest submissions ever.”

As with all Jansen exhibits, patrons may purchase artwork through the gallery shop. The artwork, however, will be available for pickup when the exhibit closes.

Jansen’s plant-based exhibit will be on display until April 30.

‘Helping hands wherever you look’

What makes Quenneville the unique person he is?

Jansen Board Member Chuck Robinson said that the Jansen executive director is “open and collaborative,” and often looks for input from a wide network of people.

“Vin is both analytical, as evidenced in his financial management, and creative, as he has displayed in his programming,” Robinson said. “I’ve been on the board at the J for more than three years and it’s been a great pleasure to work with Vin.”

For Mary Fitzgerald, Jansen’s marketing specialist, Quenneville is unique with his “enthusiastic ‘HI!’ when you walk through the door.”

“His toolbox ready to go under his desk,” Fitzgerald said. “His converted Land Rover with his own Instagram account. His devotion to the perfect glass of whiskey or wine. His storytelling capabilities. This could go on for a while.”

Fitzgerald explained that working at the J “never really feels like a typical day at the office.”

“Whether there’s an exhibit opening happening, a concert, a kiln shed being built, you can never say it was a boring day,” Fitzgerald said. “There are so many people in the J community, you are never going to go through anything alone. From administrative staff to studio leaders to artists to instructors to volunteers. There are always helping hands wherever you look.”

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