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Meet Patricia Frischer of San Diego Visual Arts Network

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Frischer.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have a Masters of Art degree as a sculptor which I earned from California College of Art in the Bay area in 1972.

Instead of staying in San Francisco as a teacher, I chose to see the world and ended up running an art sales gallery in London, having a few years as the director of the galleries at Humboldt State University and then heading an art department at an international school in Nottinghill Gate. I only came back to California in 1998.

That 25 years made a big difference in the art world in America. Arts education was slashed, the stock markets had crashed more than once, funding for the art went down the tubes, the art market went sky high, baby boomers were on their way to early retirement and everyone is wondering how to involve the millennials.

I re-entered America wanting to make my own art again and also hoping to create a rich and interesting world to inhabit. Three of the images are those of my own work.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Before I arrived in San Diego I was used to a well-organized art scene in London which was documented and where information was easily available. San Diego didn’t even have an art guide and I had to meet people one at a time to find out where the action was.

This turned out to be an advantage as it is the people that you meet that become your collaborators. You cannot achieve anything without a team and I was lucky to have the help of an enormous amount of volunteers. It is vital that you do not overwhelm or burn out a volunteer base so our volunteers only work project by project.

That means that there is little to no hierarchy in our non-profit. The disadvantage is that that without paid staff, it is hard to last for very long. But the advantage is that you don’t have to self-perpetuate when you are no longer serving a good purpose.

San Diego Visual Arts Network – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
San Diego Visual Arts Network started in 2003 well before anyone else had a website directory for the arts. In order to promote the site and draw an audience (we now have over one million hits a year and get 4-5000 unique visitors a month and represents 2500 visual arts resources countywide), we choose projects that would involve large groups of artists, cross-pollinate them with other genres and draw large numbers of numbers of viewers.

We offer a free directory for the visual arts and an events calendar with a connected app that can automatically locate where you are and what events are near you at any time.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Some of the projects I have produced include Little and Large (sculputors making jewelry and vice versa with over 140 artists in 40 venues), Art Meets Fashion (ten-four member team with artist, fashion designer, documentor and teacher and a fashion show at the SD Airport and NTC seen by over 1000 people), Hats off to Life (celebrating a dozen elderly citizen with artist made hats), Movers and Shakers (two exhibitions with a total of 80 artist making portrais of 80 VIP in the visual arts community), the San Diego Art Prize (now in its 12th year awarding 52 established and emerging artist, with a cash award and exhibitions) and DNA of Creativity (4 large teams of 20 or more that combined art and science resulting in a high quality exhibition at Oceanside Museum of art). Three of the images represent work by artist in these projects.

Being able to combine a business attitude with out of the box creative thinking enabled me to find a space in the art world where I could make a difference. But I think having a vision of the future for the arts in San Diego is the single most important quality that I contribute. This is not my personal vision but one developed from observing the history of our region and speaking to colleagues and community leaders.

We need a countywide arts council which advocates for arts and culture on all level or business and government. The first steps to re-forming an arts council was the development the North County Arts Network (NCAN). The site we developed for North County can be duplicated for the south, east and even central San Diego. The formation of an SD County Arts Council as an independent non-profit with NCAN as a DBA of that entity is a service that also can be extended to other parts of the community. That would be my proudest moment.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Fritzie Urkhart

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Patricia Frischer

    April 12, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Image 1, 2, and 4 our my own work. Image 3 is by Michelle Kurtis Cole, one of our DNA of Creativity artist shown at OMA. Image 5 is a selection of SD Art Prize Artist. Image 6 are images from all the rest of the SDVAN projects.
    Thank you for posting this article. with sincere thanks, Patricia Frischer

  2. Patricia Frischer

    April 12, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Please note: the correct spelling of the photo credit for the portrait of Patricia Frischer is FRITZIE URQUHART. Thank you.

  3. Kira Carrillo Corser

    April 13, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Patricia is such an amazing vionary and asset to San Diego! So grateful to her and to you for featuring her.

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