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Sally Ruth Bourrie has been a writer for more than thirty years. Sometimes it’s paid well enough to put a roof over her head and sometimes it’s been “only” vital mental and emotional sustenance.
She began her career at the J. Paul Getty Museum where she worked as a curatorial assistant in the Exhibitions and Paintings Departments, armed with her new master’s degree in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California. She is proud to have written the first museum exhibition catalogue on the twentieth-century California wood engraver, Paul Landacre, for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She came to California from New York, where she had received her bachelor’s degree as a double major in Art History and Political Science at Vassar College.
As a full-time freelance writer in Chicago, Denver, and Portland, she contributed heavily to a book on the history of corporate giant Motorola, which gave her an entrée to the world of technology, which has been integral to the aforementioned keeping a roof over the head. As a freelance writer, she pitched and sold more than 2,000 features, articles, white papers, advertorials, book, and web content on topics ranging from business and technology to the arts and gardening. Publications included newspapers such as The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, The Oregonian, The Denver Post, and The Dallas Morning News. Her work also appeared in the Plain Dealer Magazine, Chicago magazine, Northwest Woman, NASDAQ, Colorado Business, and Alaska Airlines; trade publications such as Cable World and Wireless Week and digital media such as Newsweek.com and Barnes and Noble digital library. She wrote and researched approximately 1,200 artist biographies and objects descriptions for J. Paul Getty Museum website.
She served as senior editor for the permanent collections at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where she oversaw the first new guidebook to the collection in more than twenty years, along with creating the first strategic plan for its award-winning digital catalogues, Online Editions, supporting the program in becoming fully sustainable within the institution. She oversaw the editing and production of one of the most complicated catalogues ever produced at the Gallery and which was created both in print and online: Italian Paintings of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries by Miklós Boskovits. Sally was the first editor for internal communications at the University of Virginia Health System as well as magazine editor for the University of Virginia Graduate School and College of Arts & Sciences Communications.
Sally comes from a family in which neither parent graduated from high school, and whose values align with those Chris Arnade has called “back row America”: faith, honor, place, and friendship. With the opportunity to live in the world of the elites, whose values Arnade categorizes as wealth and credentials, she has found herself with a capacity that seems increasingly rare in today’s divided America: to be able to connect with people in both the front and back rows and to value and celebrate those who are not in the front.