Touchstone Gallery Director Ksenia Grishkova Orol Leaves for National Museum of African American History and Culture

By Editorial Team on February 8, 2022
Touchstone Gallery Director Ksenia Grishkova Orol. Photo by Dee Levinson.

Long-time Touchstone Gallery Director Ksenia Grishkova Orol Leaves for National Museum of African American History and Culture

Ksenia Grishkova Orol, long-time director of Touchstone Gallery, is joining the social media team at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. During her 15-year tenure, Orol was the public face of the Gallery, providing a warm welcome to artists, patrons, art critics and other visitors. She is credited with raising Touchstone’s stature, visibility and relevance. She presided over the expansion of membership from 25 to 50 artists, and when the gallery was displaced from its beloved location on 7th Street NW due to redevelopment, she was instrumental in securing a beautiful modern space at its present location at 901 New York Avenue. “While we couldn’t be more proud of or happier for Ksenia in her new position, we are very sorry to see her go,” says Victoria Cowles, president of Touchstone’s board of directors.

In addition to organizing hundreds of exhibits, Orol crafted Touchstone’s strong social media presence; positioned the space as a popular venue for meetings, weddings and other events; fostered partnerships with local non-profits, embassies and national museums; and worked with hundreds of local national and international artists. When the pandemic forced the Gallery to close its doors in March 2020, Orol quickly moved exhibitions and artists talks online, allowing more artists and more patrons to participate in the Gallery’s activities. Under her leadership, Touchstone has been recognized by the Best of DC awards sponsored by Washington City Paper and The Washington Post every year since 2016.

Since its founding in 1976, Touchstone has remained dedicated to enriching the local environment through diverse contemporary art exhibitions and to showcase national and international artists whenever possible. One of Orol’s most successful innovations was an annual juried show that brought entries from across the United States and internationally. Judged by noted members of the art world and featuring themes such as 2016’s Art as Politics and 2020’s virtual show Us: What Divides Us and What Unites Us, the exhibits were provocative and showcased the work of some of the most interesting artists working today. The works drew from a wide variety of media, including large-scale installations, painting, drawing, photography, multi-media, ceramics, wood and metal sculpture, and fiber. Another popular exhibit, the annual Spotlight Art Series, highlighted the work of various, mostly local artists to bring the local and extended art community together through art.

“Sometimes this job involved controversy, when the artwork we exhibited created tensions and disagreements, but that’s when I felt most proud of being part of an organization that opened its doors for an art discussion about challenges and issues we all face,” Orol says.

Since its founding in 1976, one of Touchstone’s most important goals has been to be part of and to benefit the locals arts community. Its sister organization, the Touchstone Foundation for the Arts, was created to enrich community life through the visual arts by hosting exhibits featuring local artists and arts organizations as well as sponsoring emerging artists as gallery members. Orol will continue to serve as a liaison between the Foundation and the arts community.

“It is a measure of Ksenia’s competence that she leaves the gallery with a vital, active membership excited about its future going forward in the post-pandemic era,” Cowles says. Due to her tireless efforts, Orol leaves Touchstone with a solid foundation and a reputation for excellence.

Touchstone Gallery is a member owned and managed organization located at 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington, D. C. The Board of Directors is conducting a search for a new Director. Interested parties should e-mail touchstone.directors.position@gmail.com for a job description and to apply. For questions or more information about Touchstone Gallery, contact info@touchstonegallery.com or visit www.touchstonegallery.com.

(Source: Touchstone Press Release)

Saint Ksenia of Touchstone Painting by Dee Levinson.