I wholeheartedly agree with Shanna Robb for the need to stay focused, but we disagree on “what” we should focus on. AAI needs to focus on:

• Executing AAI’s mission.

• Conducting enriching art events like the Eye of the Artist, upcoming Youth Art show and dozens more.

• Meeting the needs of all AAI members, not just the disgruntled one.

• Doing the work required to run AAI and not being further distracted.

Many “questions” Shanna recycled in her March 26 letter have already been discredited by AAI’s legal counsel; some were action items from AAI’s annual meeting that have been closed or are already being addressed. Most, however, are unfounded accusations or innuendos that are detrimental to the organization, our members and our community.

The real question readers should be asking is why weren’t these “questions” raised earlier during the two years Shanna was intimately involved with every detail of AAI operations and positioned to answer them herself? Perhaps the real answer is more related to the board declining Shanna’s application as a viable candidate for AAI president last year. After repeatedly turning down invitations for two years to sit on the board, Shanna believed she should run AAI; the board unanimously disagreed.

The board’s duties of care also include defending AAI from those seeking to do harm, protecting AAI’s reputation and safeguarding members’ investment. We cannot continue to silently stand by while one individual with a bone to pick perpetuates untruths and further harms AAI. I personally believe in free speech for everyone: unfounded accusations and implied misconduct, however, fall into the realm of slander and libel which may be better dealt with through our legal system.

The board of directors and I are joined by AAI members who feel strongly that we’ve answered all the immediate questions raised at the annual meeting, have a solid plan to address outstanding relevant ones, and need to move on to continue doing the great work that AAI is known for. Too much time and energy have been spent dealing with this lone-ranger whisper campaign and not on what AAI should be doing: fulfilling our goals to promote art and art education, putting on art events that benefit our community and promoting the work of member artists. Let’s focus on these instead.

As many AAI members and supporters have told us about this disgraceful campaign: Enough already — let’s move on.

Marc Kassouf
President, Art Alliance of Idyllwild