Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) Executive Director Robert L. Sain has accepted a job as executive director of di Rosa, a contemporary art center in Napa Valley, California after nearly five years in Mobile. His new position is effective Jan. 15, 2016.

“This was a great opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Sain told Lagniappe. He said he was approached by a corporate recruiter months ago and underwent a series of interviews.

The 217-acre park in northern California features three galleries with over 2,000 works by 800 regional artists, a sculpture park and boasts an $8 million endowment. It was established by Rene di Rosa, the son of an heiress who became a journalist, art collector, vintner and philanthropist.

This is a return to familiar territory for Sain who ran the Children’s Museum/Museo de los Niños in San Diego, LACMALab at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga before coming to Mobile in March 2011. The CLA board said they were looking to establish the institution as a major tourist draw.

(Courtesy ACAC) Alabama Contemporary Art Center Executive Director Bob Sain (far right) participates in a round table with media professionals during the Futures Project in 2013.

(Courtesy ACAC) Alabama Contemporary Art Center Executive Director Bob Sain (far right) participates in a round table with media professionals during the Futures Project in 2013.

During Sain’s tenure, CLA returned control of the Saenger Theatre to the city of Mobile and changed the name of their Conti Street gallery from Space 301. He also launched several large-scale thematic shows such as the Memory Project, the Futures Project, Pre-Glo and the current show History Refused to Die. For the first time, internationally acclaimed artists like Tom Leeser, Allison Saar, Xavier de Richemont and Thonton Dial were featured in a way Mobilians had never seen.

“Bob has made a lasting impact on our community by raising the bar and putting us on the path to being globally competitive,” ACAC Board Chairman Mike Dow said. “I think the fact he was hired by such a prestigious contemporary art museum as Napa Valley is evidence we had a good man.”

As far as a replacement for Sain at ACAC, Dow isn’t committed to anything yet. He said the board will appoint an interim director likely between the New Year and Jan. 15 before conducting a national search for a permanent successor.