Genna Moe is the new executive director of the Wyly. Or Art Base. Whichever you want to call it, because the group is slowly rolling out their name change. No new logo yet. No changes to signage on the building. No new website. Yet. But one thing that isn’t changing is what Genna says is their ability to represent the whole valley.
“We love Basalt. We love Aspen, and Carbondale. All of the valley. Most of the other art centers in the valley are tied to place.
The Aspen Art Museum. The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities. They all are specific to their towns. The staff behind newly named Art Base want to be able to reach all of the valley.
This name change is a long time coming. Long before Genna came on board. It was part of the group’s five-year plan.
Perhaps the question you may be asking is why the change? Why break away from a name that already doesn’t have any geographic ties? You might be guessing that it was because of the Wyly name. The financial issues of the Wyly family have been well-reported. Explore Booksellers in Aspen is just one group that ran into trouble after the Wyly family ran into financial problems and their donations dried up.
But that’s not the case. The group changed their name because they felt that name no longer fit the needs and mission of the group. But the Wyly name isn’t completely disappearing from the group. A gallery will be named after the late Charles Wyly. But the transition wasn’t easy. The name change was supposed to come out a few weeks ago but some family members didn’t know exactly what was happening.
“I think some of the family knew more than other people, and grief is a really hard thing and we want to be sensitive to that," said Moe. "I think that had his name come off of it entirely, it would have been painful and we don’t want that for anybody. We want to maintain a special relationship with them.”
Aside from the initial gift of $250,000 to build the group’s first location in Woody Creek, the Wyly family contributed $70,000 a year. Now they give smaller donations.
Coming into this situation as the new executive director, Genna was a trying to make sure she wasn’t looked at like an outsider.
“I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to change a name," said Moe. "There’s a lot of PR and community perception. It’s really important that everyone knows that the family was on board with our decision, and that we’re continuing their legacy. This wasn’t something that was brought on spur of the moment. This was five years in the making. It’s really an effort for us to recognize our commitment to the community.”
The name change will be rolled out along with their updated mission, over the coming weeks and months.