Squeaky Wheel, the small, ambitious media resource center and exhibition space founded in 1985, has appointed a new executive director.
Jax Deluca, a local artist and Boston native, officially took the reins of the organization June 1. She replaces former executive director Dorothea Braemer, who led Squeaky Wheel through nine years of growth before announcing her departure in January.
Deluca, known for her art exhibitions and installations and her work as a local music promoter, began working with Squeaky Wheel in 2005 and became its programming director in 2007. She wrote in an email interview that she sees her transition into the executive director job as a logical step.
"Even though this will be my first time running an organization, this truly feels like a natural transition," she wrote. "Though it may seem that I am more involved in the creative side of things, my time at Squeaky Wheel has always been closely entwined with the administrative and fundraising duties."
In her new position, Deluca is charged with building upon Squeaky Wheel's noted successes, including its community-based documentary projects "Channels: Stories from the Niagara Frontier" and the Buffalo Youth Media Institute; its public access TV show "Artgrease;" and its ambitious artist residency programs, local art and installation programming like its annual Outdoor Animation Festival and classes in video editing and other media skills.
In a statement released by Squeaky Wheel, Deluca spoke about the importance of maintaining a balance between the organization's internationally recognized artistic programming and its mission to expand media access to the community.
"My predecessors at Squeaky Wheel have done an excellent job cultivating an international profile, while operating with a grass-roots mentality," she said. She described Squeaky Wheel as "robust and healthy," financially and with its programs.
Looking forward, Deluca said she plans to re-evaluate Squeaky Wheel's many educational initiatives and to consider some new ones – possibly launching a mobile media lab – to provide media access to as much of the community as possible.
Deluca, who earned a B.S. in electronic and media arts at Alfred University and is currently enrolled in the University at Buffalo's arts management master's program, said she also plans to reinforce Squeaky Wheel's already strong ties other community-minded arts institutions. She serves on the board of the Western New York Book Arts Center, volunteers for several other arts groups and belongs to the newly formed arts education network Arts Partners for Learning.
"My vision for the future of Squeaky Wheel is to continue building upon this foundation of connecting our local communities through the use of media art," she wrote. "I am a firm believer that no matter where you are, you can always go up," she wrote.