Creative Leadership

New Director Joins Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center

John D. Spiak joins Cal State Fullerton today, Sept. 6, as director and chief curator of the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, where graduate art majors live, learn and work.

Spiak was most recently at Arizona State University, where he served as curator of the ASU Art Museum since 2006, as well as co-founder and lead curator of the "Social Studies" initiative, an artist residency/exhibition program, begun in 2007, that uses the gallery as a laboratory for community-based projects.

The Grand Central Art Center opened in 1999 as a joint venture between Cal State Fullerton and the city of Santa Ana in the core of that city's emerging Artists Village. The center occupies a full city block in a 1924 building that was transformed into a modern three-level structure incorporating studio and living space for students, galleries and exhibition spaces, a print-making workshop, project room, small theater, gift shop and café.

“I’m excited to join the rich history of California State University, Fullerton and the Grand Central Art Center,” Spiak said. “I love all that Grand Central has to offer — its amazing staff, the galleries, M.F.A. students’ apartments and studios, theater space and classrooms  — as well as its location, in the heart of an active downtown. It’s an opportunity to directly engage with community, from those living in the artist lofts and renting studios, to businesses along Broadway and energetic 4th Street, surrounding neighborhoods, the Cal State Fullerton family and Southern California population.”

During more than 16 years at ASU, Spiak held a variety of positions, including founding director of the ASU Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival, senior curatorial museum specialist, acting media relations coordinator for the museum and acting curator of education.

At ASU, where he was awarded the ASU President's Medal for Social Embeddedness, he worked closely with museum staff, docents, faculty, staff, students and the public to help broaden understanding of contemporary art practices by curating exhibitions, developing outreach programs, writing texts, leading tours and guest lecturing. He also served in advisory roles for nonprofit organizations.

His 20 years of curatorial experience had its origins in Orange County at the Chemers Gallery in Tustin, where he was a gallery assistant/preparator then gallery curator/preparator  from 1988-1994.

“Growing up in Tustin and with grandparents who lived in Santa Ana, I spent much time in the downtown area as a child. It is this diversity of culture, vision and influence that attracted me to this position,” Spiak added. “My vision is to work toward programming at the Grand Central Art Center that expands beyond the physical walls of the institution, collaborating with the community to realize projects that continue to recognize and celebrate the dynamic cultural wealth that is downtown Santa Ana.”

In addition to the two dozen solo exhibitions he curated for the ASU Art Museum, Spiak organized numerous group exhibitions there and at other universities, institutions and art spaces.  In 1999, one of the group exhibitions he curated, Sig-alert, toured at the Grand Central Art Center, becoming the second exhibition presented there. Subsequently, two of his curated projects also were presented at Grand Central — “VJ Johnny D. presents: POPS,” in 2003, and the ASU Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival, which toured there annually from 1998-2004.

Spiak holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in anthropology from Cal State Dominguez Hills. He succeeds Mike McGee, acting director of the Grand Central Art Center.

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Media Contact:           
Paula Selleck, Public Affairs, 657-278-4856 or

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