The San Diego Art Institute in San Diego, California. The San Diego Art Institute was known as the San Diego Business Men’s Art Club, established in 1941. The name changed to the San Diego Art Institute in 1950, and membership was opened to women three years later, in 1951. SDAI was established as a non-profit organization in 1963, with the mission to promote artists from the Southern California/Baja Norte region. The San Diego Art Institute, under the direction of Executive Director Ginger Shulick Porcella, switched its emphasis in 2014 in preparation for its 75th anniversary. Today, the San Diego Art Institute is a groundbreaking experimental bi-national contemporary art institution that focuses on artists from Southern California and Northern Baja California.
In 1941 a group of San Diego merchants convened in the office of Reginald Poland, then Director of the Fine Arts Gallery in Balboa Park, to discuss the future of the gallery. All of these gentlemen were enthusiastic about the prospect of starting an art group whose primary goal would be to paint local landmarks and historical sceneries near San Diego and the surrounding area. Following the organizational meeting, they sent out invitations to painters who had previously expressed an interest in preserving the memory of San Diego County’s early monuments, which were rapidly disappearing. A re-organized meeting was conducted in May, at which the name “San Diego Business Men’s Art Club” was officially approved.
Walter W. Austin, a former mayor of San Diego, was elected as the organization’s first president. However, Maurice Braun served as the initial instructor for this group. He was well-known throughout Southern California for his serene California landscapes and uncommon teaching skills. Several other artists, including Otto Schneider, Alfred R. Mitchell, and others, served as instructors for this active outdoor painting club. Exhibitions of club members’ work were presented in various locations. The first one-person show was held by a member of this initial organization, held by Charles Small in Bohnen’s Studio at Fifth and Laurel Streets in New York.