Ginger Shulick Porcella says MOCA exhibitions will reflect “the global art community.”

Ginger Shulick Porcella has been named the new head of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.

Porcella, currently the executive director and chief curator at the San Diego Art Institute, will also take on the curatorial job at MOCA. She begins April 24.

Her reasons for trading cool ocean breezes for the hot desert sun are numerous, she said in a phone interview.

“It’s a great space and location,” she said about the museum, in a converted fire station downtown.

“The board is very engaged, particularly with fundraising and outreach. And the staff has a lot of great ideas; that was really appealing to me.”

“She’s a proven leader and change maker,” said Courtney Johnson, head of the museum’s board.

The board wants to double the museum’s budget — to about $1.2 million —by 2020, and Porcella is the one to do that, Johnson added.

“She’s not afraid of that and has a plan for it,” she said.

Porcella was in the San Diego post for three years. In that time, she cast a wide net, bringing in exhibitions that ranged from fabric art to video installations.

The current show, “Boiling Process 5: Methodologies,” features works by emerging artists from San Diego, Tijuana and Los Angeles, which reflects her interest in diverse and young artists.

The exhibits at the Balboa Park museum have all included a mix of video, installation and paintings. “They are very diverse and engaging,” she said.

She has also opened the San Diego museum for discussions, concerts and performance series, and has implemented an artist in residence program. “It provides space and time and money to create new work,” she said.

Along the way, Porcella increased attendance, the museum’s visibility and donations, according to an article in the San Diego Tribune.

She hopes to do the same at MOCA.

“Some of my goals are doing programs that will raise awareness and bring big, and new and young audiences to MOCA … I want to make it a dynamic space for visitors, so that it’s fun and engaging.”

Exhibitions, she said, will reflect “the global art community, particularly women and artists of color.”

The director’s job is the only full-time position at the 20-year-old MOCA. There are six part-time employees; she hopes to increase their hours. “The staff is really diverse and has good ideas,” she said.

The MOCA budget is about the same as the San Diego Art Institute’s, which is $620,000.

The director’s position at MOCA has been open since Samuel Ireland stepped down last August after a little more than a year on the job.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128. On Twitter: @kallenStar


Kathleen has covered the arts for the Star for 20 years. Previously, she covered business, news and features for the Tucson Citizen. A near-native of Tucson, she is continually amazed about the Old Pueblo's arts scene and feels lucky to be covering it.