St. Paul interior decorator Timothy G. Fleming has been picked as executive director of the Textile Center starting June 25. He succeeds Margaret Miller, the Minneapolis organization's founding director, who is retiring after 18 years.

"I've been doing residential interior design for 30 years now and just wanted to do something else, so when this opportunity came along, I thought, why not?" said Fleming.

Through his firm, Timothy Fleming Interiors, founded in 1991, he has worked with clients in Florida, Hawai and especially Aspen, Colorado, he said. He also co-founded Ampersand, a home accessory retailer, and subsequently sold his interest in the business. He plans to shutter the interior design firm after moving to the Textile Center.

For the past 20 years he also has done volunteer work with various nonprofit Twin Cities organizations including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where he chaired the Textile Council, and the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota, where he was president of the board of directors. He also served on a capital campaign committee at Twin Cities Public Television

Fleming earned a B.A. in art history from the University of Minnesota and has studied textile conservation and restoration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, textile dating in Venice, Italy; and worked as a volunteer in textile preservation at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Textile Center is an 18 year old consortium of artisans including weavers, knitters, quilters, dyers and other fiber related trades. After operating out of rented offices in St. Paul for seven years, it moved in 2001 into a former automotive showroom at 3000 University Av. S.E. in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis just east of the University of Minnesota. The organization successfully raised about $2 million to buy and renovate that building.

In the past decade the center has grown to staff of 10 with an annual budget of about $800,000. Besides regular exhibitions, classes and fashion shows, it runs a shop and a library boasting one of the world's largest circulating-collections of textile books. Last year it hosted an international fiber art conference.

Fund raising and future expansion plans will be high on Fleming's to-do list. The organization has outgrown its present quarters and has been working with the James Dayton architecture and design firm on preliminary plans for new facilities.

University Av. near the center is presently torn up for the installation of light rail tracks, a project that should be finished this fall although trains are not scheduled to run until 2014. The center hopes to be the anchor tenant in a revitalized arts-oriented, mixed use neighborhood around the Prospect Park light rail station.

"Within five to 10 years we will definitely be in larger quarters across the street and we expect to start capital campaign funding in about two years," said Ruth Stephens, president of the Textile Center's board of directors. "Tim is very aware that  this is on his plate for the Textile Center." 


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