San Diego Art Institute’s Ginger Shulick Porcella gets down to the art of the matter.
It has been just under three years since Ginger Shulick Porcella became San Diego Art Institute’s (1439 El Prado, San Diego, 619.236.0011) executive director, but she has already raised the organization to impressive new heights. “I would [visit] L.A. and people would joke: ‘Is there art in San Diego?’” notes Shulick Porcella, who spent her early career in Manhattan. When she first arrived, the art connoisseur noticed a void in the market—there wasn’t space for talented emerging artists to consistently show their work and receive support. Thus, she set out to establish a home base and by all accounts has succeeded, turning the staid SDAI, which celebrated its 75th this year, into a thriving center for contemporary artists to experiment and create new work. This, of course, required big (and, for some disgruntled longtime members, painful) changes—for starters, removing the institute’s ban on art that uses electricity (“you can’t give artists rules,” she says). Shulick Porcella has also started an artist-in-residence program, expanded to a temporary exhibition space in Horton Plaza, and has attracted a younger audience with a robust calendar of unpredictable events (up next she’s launching a podcast on conspiracy theories linked to San Diego). No wonder attendance has gone way up since she arrived—doubling over last year—with nearly a third of the patrons coming from, that’s right, Los Angeles.