A Day Trip to San Diego with Professor Whiting

Professor Whiting’s class 165A Early American Art traveled to San Diego November 15, 2019 for an in-depth look at a few art history occupations and private tours of the San Diego Museum of Art, the Balboa Art Conservation Center and Dewer’s Custom Framing and Fine Art Services.

The day began with a visit to the San Diego Museum of Art, where students met with Curator Regina Palm, who recently rehung the American Art galleries. She described the thought process behind art placement decisions, as well as the history behind the paintings as she took the group through the galleries.

Diana Oviedo ‘found it interesting to learn how Dr. Palm decided to group works of art the way she did, foregoing traditional and chronological hanging for theme-based placement, which made viewing of the paintings more thought-provoking.’ Students particularly enjoyed seeing works  by painters they had learned about in Professor Whiting’s class.

Students asked Dr. Palm questions following the tour about her education, her struggles, and the skills needed to become a curator. Skye Altamirano recalled the curator ‘explained how she worked hard and came into her current position, and described other routes her colleagues took in their careers, giving students an honest and helpful understanding of the path ahead looks like for this chosen profession.’

Diana Costa noted that “as an education major with a minor in art history, I always wondered how I could make use of my minor. This field trip taught me that the Education Department is in charge of guided tours and community outreach.” Students ventured to other parts of the museum, looking at other art and a variety of exhibits, some showcasing  art from Asian countries, others displaying  different art movements.

The group visited the Balboa Art Conservation Center after lunch in the Japanese Tea Garden, where they met with Alexis Miller, chief conservator of paintings, and her team. Students toured the workspace where paintings and sculpture pieces were in the process of being restored, a highlight of the tour for some students.

Jihye Choi wrote ‘meeting with conservation professionals at the Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) inspired me to consider art conservation as a career option. Conservation is an integral part of preserving artistic and cultural value.’ Sara Lambert, also interested in a career in art conservation, noted BACC staff shared ‘a lot of helpful information about the conservation field. It was cool to see the workspace and learn what conservation entails.’

The next and final stop of the day was to J Dewer’s Custom Framing and Fine Art Services  where the group met with Janos Novak, an artist and framer who provided a brief history of frame-making as he showed everyone around the workshop. Students learned how to mat and were allowed to examine frame-making materials while watching a demonstration of the frame-making process. Student Endria Suarez was given gold leaf to dissolve in her hand. Endria recalls ‘holding the gold leaf and watching it disappear into my hands was really interesting.’

Professor Whiting's students thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the opportunity to share their insights and emotions with each other, Professor Whiting, and Graduate Program Coordinator, Clara Quijano (who drove one of the vans) about the art they had viewed and the career options they learned about.  They are grateful to Friends of Art History, Kevin and Irene Rowe, who provided the resources and connections that made this trip possible.