Yassin retires from PV Art Center

Bob Yassin, executive director, Palos Verdes Art Center. Photo courtesy PV Art Center.

When Bob Yassin joined the Palos Verdes Art Center a decade ago, the non-profit group that supports art education programs for young and old was struggling.

Funding was virtually hand-to-mouth, and the future of the organization was in jeopardy. Yassin, a former art professor and director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, had an idea.

In his first year as executive director, Yassin oversaw California’s first dream house raffle. The story made national news at the time, including a spot on the Today Show.

Over the past decade, the Art Center’s Win a Dream House Raffle! has given away $11 million and helped solidify the future of the organization, which earlier this year celebrated its 80th anniversary.

Yassin announced his retirement this month, saying he plans to stay on until the end of the year to see the completion of the group’s new facility, which includes a kitchen for catered events and one of Southern California’s only glass-blowing labs open to the public.

“I’m not going to be here to solve what lies ahead, but all the doors will be open,” Yassin said. “I didn’t know when I took the job I was going to be here this long, but it’s worked out very well. I couldn’t find a better place to retire from. Coming to work everyday has been a real pleasure.”

In retiring, Yassin leaves behind a community art center fully prepared to survive another 80 years, said Nancy Cumming, board president.

“We could have never attracted someone of Bob’s experience,” Cumming said. “He knew he had the skills to be able to bring us up to a stable financial position and grow our endowment. And that of course is what he’s done.”

Yassin said he’ll miss most the community and the people he had the pleasure to work with.

“This is a fabulous community,” Yassin said. “I’ve never met nicer people, great volunteers, really committed and concerned people. Anyone who’s grown up here is very lucky.”

Judy Krehbiel, the group’s treasurer, said Yassin really pushed education in the arts as a key principle. Even after 37 years, Art at Your Fingertip – the group’s signature program that brings art projects to elementary schools – still manages to be innovative and keep the attention of students, she said.

“What I appreciated more than anything was his unwavering support of the program,” Krehbiel said. “He really pushed education in the arts and how critical that is. Kids still need art, and it’s not provided in PV schools.”

Yassin, who’s 71, plans to continue studying art history, which he began his career teaching in Indiana, as well as learn to better play the piano.

“Hopefully I can get to a point where I am mastering the piano — it’s not mastering me,” Yassin said. ER



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