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Colleen Sheehy named new head of Public Art St. Paul

Sheehy succeeds Christine Podas-Larson, who founded the arts nonprofit 28 years ago.

Colleen Sheehy
Photo by Meg Spielman Peldo
Colleen Sheehy

Public Art St. Paul has named Colleen Sheehy its new president and executive director.

She succeeds Christine Podas-Larson, who founded the nonprofit arts organization 28 years ago. and will retire June 30. (We talked last month with Podas-Larson about changes she’s seen.)

Sheehy comes from the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, where she’s been director and CEO since 2008. Accomplishments there include:

  • A $2.85 million capital campaign
  • Reoriented the museum to community engagement
  • Advancing public art in the cities of Fargo and Moorhead
  • Public art projects
  • Helped create an Arts and Culture Commission in Fargo  

She’d previously been director of education at the Weisman Art Museum of the University of Minnesota from 1993 to 2008 and had been assistant director for the University Art Museum’s touring exhibitions program before that.

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She has a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.

The mission of Public Art St. Paul, as Podas-Larson describes it:

Public Art Saint Paul brings artists together with communities to shape a public realm that fosters imagination, explores civic values and the community’s evolving history, and strengthens public places as vessels of public life.

Our  work beautifies the city and brings art into our everyday civic lives; it’s our civic connective tissue. We know that artists illuminate social and environmental conditions, and our work fosters a deep fondness for this place of our personal histories and civic lives.