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The San Diego Art Institute has a new leader at the helm.

Jacqueline Silverman will step in as executive director of the Balboa Park institution, taking the place of Ginger Shulick Porcella. Porcella is credited with successfully turning the San Diego Art Institute into a key player in the local art scene.

Not everyone liked the changes Porcella made, but those who did became passionate supporters who want to see the institute continue down its path of becoming a well-regarded contemporary art museum that showcases cutting-edge art with a focus on artists living in San Diego and Tijuana.

In a press release about the new appointment, Silverman made sure to signal to those supporters that she’d be carrying Porcella’s torch.

“I’m thrilled about continuing the trajectory created by Ginger and sustained so successfully by the staff since her departure,” she wrote.

Not everyone, though, was thrilled by the SDAI board of directors’ choice.

Artist Alexa Araña wrote a post on Facebook that was reposted by several other local artists who’ve shown work at the San Diego Art Institute. Araña said she was unhappy with the decision not to hire Lissa Corona, the former education director who’s been interim executive director for the past few months.

“Today Lissa Corona was removed from the position of interim director at the San Diego Art Institute and replaced with a white woman without ties and experience at the San Diego Art Institute,” Araña wrote. “Lissa, a woman of color with a passion for the arts, activism and education, brought a community-driven vision to the San Diego Art Institute during her time as interim director. Under her leadership, the institute supported a number of events focused on the arts, activism, and underrepresented communities.”

A rally in support of Corona was held at the San Diego Art Institute Friday night.

On Facebook, some people cited as a concern Silverman’s role as a principal of J&S Silverman Consulting, a firm that was paid a total of $137,858 for work on the Balboa Park centennial celebration debacle.

Susanna Peredo, who sits on the art institute’s board, said that connection was not a concern, and that Silverman was hired because she was the most qualified woman for the job.

“We needed someone with extensive knowledge about nonprofit best practices, fiscal management, strategic planning and public engagement,” Peredo wrote in an email.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

Free Bus Trips to Balboa Park

On a recent Wednesday, families from neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego took a backstage tour of the Old Globe. They also stopped by the Botanic Garden and a few other institutions in Balboa Park.

Kids from southeastern San Diego visit the Botanical Garden in Balboa Park.
Photo by Lorena Santana

Through a translator, one mother of two young kids who went on the Old Globe tour said she liked seeing the costume room. She’s a seamstress, so she said she appreciated all the intricate details of the costumes.

“I loved it – really, really loved it,” she said.

The tour is one of a series happening every Wednesday through August. Families from southeastern San Diego travel to Balboa Park via bus to visit its cultural institutions for free.

Lorena Santana is an artist who helped create the program for the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership, a group that works to improve educational outcomes for students who live in neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego.

“For many of our families, it is the first time they’ve visited a museum,” Santana wrote in an email. “It’s powerful to see how meaningful this cultural experience is for them.”

Another woman on the tour with her kids said she’d love to visit Balboa Park on her own, but said her limited English prevents her from taking advantage of other offerings there.

“I would like to, but there’s a language barrier,” she said through a translator.

Plaza de Panama Closer to Car Free, Protest Surfing at the Border and Other Arts and Culture News

• The city’s Plaza de Panama project to get cars out of the middle of Balboa Park has cleared one big legal hurdle. (Times of San Diego)

• The folks behind the Quartyard, the temporary pop-up park in the East Village that recently closed down, had announced plans to reopen about a block away. Someone opposed that plan, though, so now they’re asking people to show up at a public hearing to voice support for the project.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

• On Wednesday, the San Diego Regional Arts & Culture Coalition will throw a party to celebrate victories at the city of San Diego, the city of Chula Vista, the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, all entities that faced major proposed arts funding cuts.

• The big eclipse is happening Monday. Watch it with the experts at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

• As an art project meant to draw attention to the proposed border wall and the divisions it creates, artist Diego Palacios invited people to surf the international waters next to the border fence that runs into the Pacific Ocean. Artists have been creating projects at and about the U.S.-Mexico border for years. (LA Weekly)

• San Diego artist Celeste Byers recently finished a new mural in Ocean Beach that features a beekeeper from the neighborhood named Shauna Aiken.

• The Misfit Gallery in La Jolla is showing a video about local surfer Skip Frye, former Councilwoman Donna Frye’s husband.

View rarely shown paintings of Mexico’s black population at Casa del Tunel Art Center in Tijuana. (Union-Tribune)

• KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando stopped by composer John Luther Adams’  “The Wind Garden” public art piece at UC San Diego.

• San Diego artist Mario Torero painted a new mural on a storefront across the street from Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. The piece is part of Torero’s “Eyes of Picasso” series of outdoor murals that have appeared in locations throughout San Diego.

• There are now more women leading major arts organizations in San Diego than ever. I wrote about the trend last year. The La Jolla Light just ran two stories (here and here) featuring 13 ladies running arts organizations in town.

San Diego has some things to offer cinephiles looking for a film scene here, but not enough says CityBeat arts columnist Rachel Michelle Fernandes.

• A local band appears to have made it into the Guinness World Records book for playing the most live musical performances in a 24-hour period. (Union-Tribune)

• There’s a nomad gallery in San Diego that sets up periodically on public beaches around town. It’s having a show this week.

• Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Port of San Diego’s public art department is inviting the public to attend two interactive workshops with Randy Walker, an artist who’s been commissioned to create a new piece of public art.

• The Lux Art Institute announced its next five resident artists. (Union-Tribune)

KPBS unveiled its new “One Book, One San Diego” selection.

• The city of Carlsbad is chugging along on its new art and culture master plan.

• The Old Globe’s newest staging of “Hamlet” is bold and powerful, according to local critics. (KPBS, Union-Tribune)

• If you’re still wondering what the annual Tiki Oasis event in San Diego is all about, take a sec to scope out this roundup of tiki fashion. (KPBS)

• An art gallery owner in Barrio Logan just announced a new program offering private tours of the rapidly changing neighborhood.

• Check out this new event happening in La Jolla.

Kids perform jazz every Wednesday night at Panama 66. What started as a music program for young musicians is now an official nonprofit called the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory. The group will be holding its first fundraiser this week.

• The annual literary TwainFest event is happening this week. (Union-Tribune)

Beer, Booze, Weed and Food News

• CityBeat writers stepped outside of their comfort zones for the paper’s annual food issue.

• A Portland ice cream shop with a cult following is opening its first San Diego location.

• Here’s a guide to good hotdogs in San Diego. (Eater)

A hotdog
Image via Shutterstock

• Summertime is officially winding down, but in San Diego, where fall is usually hotter than summer, it’s as good a time as any to drink refreshing cocktails. (San Diego Magazine)

• Germans seem to be digging Stone Brewing’s new brewery there. (Union-Tribune)

• There’s a new brewery in Logan Heights. (Reader)

• Learn more about the Good Food District in southeastern San Diego.

• Here’s a report that looks at the local farm-to-school movement that works to get fresh, locally grown food served to kids.

• The Latin Food Fest is happening this week.

• San Diego’s craft distillery scene is taking off. (Union-Tribune)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. Contact her directly at

Kinsee Morlan

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture...

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