The San Diego Art Institute was initially founded in 1941 as the San Diego Business Men's Art Club. In 1950 the name was changed to the San Diego Art Institute, and three years later women were allowed membership into the organization.

SDAI became a nonprofit in 1963 and has since become a premier contemporary art center showcasing work from the Southern California/Baja Norte region.

My family and I have been convinced, for the first time in thirty years, to donate money to SDAI, because of the confidence as a professional arts leader I have in my very worthy and competent counterpart, Ginger Shulick Porcella.

— Dr. Hugh M. Davies, The David C. Copley Director and CEO, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
San Diego contemporary artists don’t have to leave San Diego to have a place to show that will bring them the attention and connections that they serve. They have a place to call home: SDAI.
— Dani Dodge, artist member
Ginger’s exhibitions feature educational programming that runs parallel to university arts curricula, allowing students to meet contemporary artists and engage more deeply in the exhibition. She has also reached out to the San Diego arts community, providing networking opportunities that were previously nonexistent in San Diego. Her curator-in-residence and visiting critic series bring new voices and ideas to San Diego’s cultural community.
— Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Artist and Research Fellow, San Diego State University
As an artist, I find the new director of SDAI to be invigorating, refreshing and exciting, while also inviting questions and encouraging a critical dialogue about contemporary art. As an educator, I see the contemporary programming that Ginger has brought to SDAI as content that I can connect to my curriculum, which addresses current themes and trends, both formally and conceptually.
— Prof. John Oliver Lewis, Southwestern College
Ginger sees the amazing rich potential that is SDAI, and is committed to sharing that vision with the community. Her passion and hard work has already given new life to SDAI and as a result, artists, collectors, and arts administrators for the community now eagerly attend the robust, challenging, and informed exhibitions that take place. She is a culture creator, and I look forward to seeing more of her ideas manifest in the galleries at SDAI.
— Prof. Jessica McCambly
In less than a year Ginger Shulick Porcella has gone above and beyond in her role as the Executive Director at SDAI. She has become a cultural liaison and incubator of good ideas. She has also given space to emerging, developing, and unrepresented voices. I have attended many of the openings and events, which are not only packed with a diverse audience, but create a central, cultural incubator that the museums in Balboa Park have never been able to generate, let alone support and foster.
— Joshua Krause, artist member
There are very few places where a serious artist can exhibit in this community…the San Diego Art Institute could function as an alternative community forum that addresses many of the needs in this community. Ms. Porcella can and is doing this.
— Raul Guerrero, Lecturer, University of California San Diego
The San Diego Art Institute is a popular haven for the most active and inspirational creative artists in the region. I’ve witnessed art professors and professionals, who have spent decades in this fine city struggling to encourage students and colleagues that the tides will soon turn in the favor of a thriving art scene, express complete shock and amazement at the first signs of that dream coming true as they walked through the doors of SDAI, a 75-year old institutions, for the first time in 2015.
— Matthew Mahoney, SDAI artist-in-residence
I have been consistently impressed with the quality of the art, events, and programs at SDAI. As a new arrival in San Diego, it has been SDAI that I have relied upon as the hub of my artistic community. SDAI is an invaluable resource to San Diego and Ginger is a similarly invaluable asset. She is a tireless advocate for artists and the arts, a formidable and fearless community-builder with both the vision and the tenacity to innovate and achieve excellence.
— Andrew Horwitz, cultural producer
SDAI has rapidly come to occupy a vital position within the San Diego arts community, namely, an institution that can serve as an incubator for regional artists producing ambitious contemporary art projects in all media.
— Alex Young, curator
It is rare that such a venue can produce the level of work you have been able to facilitate and I cannot say enough good things about your organization or your participation in manifesting this change. I am truly grateful for your devotion, curatorial prowess, and aesthetic sensibilities.
— Brian Brenfer, Assistant Professor of Art, Mesa College
The San Diego Art Institute has become a highlight for San Diego, both locals and tourists alike have had the unique opportunity to enjoy a large array of some of the country’s best established and emerging artists. She has embraced San Diego’s unique bi-national regional status and nourished a collaborative work ethic amongst San Diego and Tijuana’s art institutions and organizations.
— Leticia Gomez Franco, Director of Programs, New Americans Museum
The thoughtful programming is providing visitors and artists the opportunity to experience a vast array of visual inquiry that is uniquely responding to the rich bi-national cultural dynamics and global relationship of Southern California and Baja California.
— Paul Turounet, Professor of Art, Grossmont College
SDAI was not even on my radar before, and now it is a space that people talk about amongst current visual art students and alum at USD, SDSU, UCSD, as well as exhibition San Diego artists who are known in the region and nationally.
— Victoria Fu, Professor at University of San Diego
With this letter I am extending my wholehearted support for the excellent work and beneficial change that has occurred at SDAI under the leadership of director Ginger Shulick Porcella. Not only has SDAI begun partnering with Park institutions which had rarely happened previously, Ginger has established a compelling strategy to communicate and engage with the community at a level that is seemingly unprecedented in SDAI’s recent history…there is no question in my mind that Ginger is the leader that SDAI needs at this time.
— Nik Honeysett, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Balboa Park Online Collaborative
Ginger has done a brilliant job of introducing new and dynamic exhibitions that open up opportunities for many new artists that SDAI did not currently reach, while maintaining programming for current SDAI members.
— Ann Berchtold, Founder & Director, Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show
As a museum professional, I am aware of the many ways in which SDAI benefits the local arts community and how both the organization and its community impact have blossomed under Ginger’s leadership. SDAI continues to showcase the work of talented local artists and is a true asset to Balboa Park and the wider San Diego arts community.
— Christine Knoke, Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator, Mingei International Museum
The San Diego Art Institute is a cultural asset for our city. The organization supports talented local artists, promoting their work and our artistic community through high quality exhibitions at their venue.
— Julianne M. Markow, Executive Director and CEO, The New Children’s Museum
After visiting the San Diego Art Institute, meeting Ginger Shulick Porcella, and seeing the new exhibits we want to voice our support for the exciting new changes she is making at the Institute. In order to keep and attract emerging artists, it is important to have a venue in Balboa Park that acknowledges the variety of new approaches and expressions in contemporary art.
— Cheryl Nickel and Bob Leathers, Cofounders of Space 4 Art
As Director of Education at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, we are always looking for opportunities to partner with the many other cultural institutions here in Balboa Park. In the last year, we have done more with SDAI than I can recall ever doing before in my 14 years in and around Balboa Park. We are looking forward to creating more partnership experiences in conjunction with SDAI and the wider arts community that directly affect the youth of San Diego.
— Francis French, Director of Education, San Diego Air & Space Museum
Ginger Porcella supports the arts community of San Diego. She not only reaches out to artists but inspires high school students to pursue their artistic careers. Ginger’s enthusiasm for the arts has brought new life to San Diego.
— RJ Brooks, Director and Co-Founder, A Ship in the Woods
The difficulty for any nonprofit cultural leader is how to revitalize and grow an important cultural organization so that it remains relevant and thriving in the future. I applaud Ms. Shulick Porcella for her courage, vision, and dedication over the past year in making a substantive effort to bring SDAI forward into the 21st century. She has made bold leadership and programmatic decisions that have produced some excellent new results and opportunities for SDAI’s future.
— Daniel Foster, Executive Director, Oceanside Museum of Art
The support, acceptance, and acknowledgement I have received from SDAI and the greater southern California arts community since Ginger came on board has been transformative for me in my development as an artist, and supporting emerging artists of diverse genres is central to the mission of SDAI.
— Robert Pendelton, artist and Board Chair, Oceanside Museum of Art