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There’s been a lot of talk lately about Ginger Shulick Porcella, executive director of the San Diego Art Institute, a nonprofit arts organization in Balboa Park that’s been around for 75 years.
During our Beef Week last month, an arts insider clued me in to some drama happening behind the scenes at SDAI. Artists who have long been members of the institute are unhappy with Porcella’s leadership, the tipster said. Among her big changes, according to the Union-Tribune: She’s replaced holding juried exhibitions with curated ones, started an artist-in-residence program and has made an effort to showcase artists from Los Angeles and Tijuana too.
At the time, there was only chatter – nothing really to dig into. Then a Facebook thread in a private group made up of San Diego artists, arts writers and organizers went off the rails. The conversation started as a call-to-artists to participate in SDAI’s annual C-Note event, where artists sell works priced at $100 or less and give 50 percent of their sales to the institute.
That last stipulation was the point of contention that led to some major shots being fired on Facebook. Some applauded and defended Porcella for taking what’s been considered a stale arts organization and turning it into a must-visit spot. Others said she’s ruining the institution, and made personal attacks, going so far as to tell her to go back to where she came from (that’d be New York) and saying the institute had been “hijacked by foreigners,” whatever that means.
The Union-Tribune dug into the complaints against Porcella’s leadership style, which even drove a group of members to urge the city to find that the art institute is violating its lease.
Porcella, for her part, is taking a dirt-off-your-shoulders approach to the critiques:
“I know it’s going to be difficult when you change things,” Porcella said. “People are always going to get upset. But I have to look at the positives, because I really believe in what we’re doing. I see the potential, and I think other people see the potential.
“It’s always going to be a lot of work, but San Diego needs it. There are so many fantastic artists in San Diego. Shouldn’t there be an infrastructure here to support them?”
“I want to give freedom to artists to do whatever they want.”
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
Fear of Coney Island, Total Ripoffs and More Visual Art News
• San Diego CityBeat’s profile of artist Kathleen Mitchell will give you all sorts of feels.
• An arts organization is teaching kids how to make a career out of art, which is something I think a lot of adults would like some insight on as well. (Eagle & Times)
• John Asaro has created an ambitious 100-piece exhibition revolving around his childhood. (Union-Tribune)
That same exhibition will help raise funds for a new piazza in Little Italy. (Times of San Diego)
• Boxing and art make a great team. (Fox 5)
• Do you have an irrational fear of hot dogs, clowns, sideshow performers and carnival fun? Then maybe avoid the San Diego Museum of Art’s newest exhibition. (Just kidding, don’t, because it sounds rad). (San Diego Magazine)
• A winning photograph at the San Diego County Fair’s art competition had to be removed because it was very likely a total ripoff of another person’s work. Guys, the internet exists. You can’t get away with this sort of thing. (10 News)
Costuming A-Go-Go in Music and Performance Goods
• Costume designer Alina Bokovikova talks about her craft and how her Russian roots inform how she creates pieces for the stage. (Union-Tribune)
Comic-Con Events – No Badge Required – and More Culture Crumbs
• Are you badgeless this Comic-Con? DiscoverSD has some cool options to check out without having to stand in line for Hall H for 18 hours.
• But first, maybe read up on some interesting history of Comic-Con as a pop culture mecca. (Union-Tribune)
• Feel free to get Ron Swanson-level excited about wood carving. It’s a pretty fascinating skill. (Union-Tribune)