Art Alive Modern Women

This year The San Diego Museum of Art is celebrating women by featuring an all-female cast of lead artists, designers, and musicians at Art Alive, taking inspiration from the recently opened Modern Women exhibition. This exhibition celebrates the arrival of twenty works of art by women to the Museum including Sonia Delaunay, Françoise Gilot, and key Abstract Expressionists Lee Krasner and Elaine de Kooning. Historically marginalized in the art world, many women artist’s careers were overshadowed by the successes of their artist husbands and other applauded men in the field, yet the contributions of women artists to the development of modern and contemporary art cannot be overstated. We illuminate these key figures in art history to continue to recognize and, thus, elevate women as leaders in the art world. This includes the below selection of highly talented women who will be featured as keynote artists for the Art Alive 2023 weekend.

Learn more about Art Alive.

Art Alive Featured Artists

Kara Ford

Bloom Bash Featured Musician
DJ Kara Ford

Kara is an LA-based DJ with experience ranging from corporate events, to weddings, private parties, grand openings, pop-up events, and corporate conferences in Vegas. She also loves to maintain a presence in the Los Angeles nightlife scene, typically DJing monthly at various bars and lounges around LA. Kara has eclectic musical taste. She enjoys spinning genres such as Deep house, Funk, Disco, Rnb, Top 40, and loves to throw it back to the late 90s/00s during her sets. Over her eight years as a DJ, she has grown her portfolio getting to work with many well-known corporate clients such as Zillow, Microsoft, Porsche, and Google to name a few. Kara has a passion for what she does, and is excited for all of the new opportunities to come.

Hear Kara spin at Bloom Bash, the kick-off 21+ party to Art Alive weekend.

Thao Huynh French

Art Alive Featured Muralist
Muralist Thao Huynh French

Thao Huynh French is an artist, muralist and photographer. Born in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, she currently lives and works in San Diego, Ca. She is best known for co-founding Mindful Murals™ with her husband, where together they’ve painted over 350 community murals for schools and public spaces all over California. In addition to painting murals, she develops projects that intersect social justice and also paints commissions and displays artwork in galleries. Her work explores different varieties of flowers, family history, and her Asian American heritage. Her art is a mixture of abstract and figurative concepts that are often broad and contrasting in ways of style and mediums with no limitation of color. Her work continues to evolve, using her training in traditional painting and figurative drawing to experiment with more modern ways to create art styles that are uniquely hers.

Thao’s vibrant mural can be seen at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® in Carlsbad, California, helping share Art Alive with flower-loving audiences in North County San Diego.

Natalie Gill

Art Alive 2023 Rotunda Designer
Natalie Gill, Native Poppy founder with Native Poppy van and flowers

California-born and raised, Natalie Gill launched Native Poppy, her intrepid flower business in 2014, to bring beauty to life’s important moments, and to make others happy. Natalie’s goal as a business owner is to create art that is authentic, ambitious, and true to her artistic point of view. She hopes to encourage her team to step into their creative potential and share their talents with the world.

This installation for Art Alive will be her first project after welcoming her daughter into the world in January 2023. She is looking forward to seeing how creating life will change her perspective on how she approaches creating art and hopes it will be with a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for how beautiful life can be.

Natalie is the featured Art Alive 2023 Rotunda Designer. See Natalie’s two-story design of cascading florals throughout Art Alive weekend in the Museum rotunda.

Imelda Lacayo

Art Alive 2023 Featured Floral Partner

Imelda Lacayo is an inspiring entrepreneur and dedicated mother who has made her mark in the San Diego flower business. Born and raised in Southern California, Imelda’s passion for flowers was inspired by her father, who was a farmer in San Diego. In 2016, she followed her dreams and opened her own wholesale flower business, Cali Wholesale Flowers, becoming one of the few female wholesalers in the region. Imelda’s business has been a success, and her son is her greatest source of pride and motivation. She is an example of hard work, determination, and passion and is an inspiration to all those who strive to realize their dreams. She has a passion for working with flowers and has dedicated her time to learning the ins and outs of the floral industry.

Imelda is an expert in her field and is dedicated to providing her clients with the highest quality products. Her business has been growing steadily since its inception and she looks forward to expanding her reach and continuing to make her customers flourish. Imelda’s passion, dedication, and hard work have made her a successful businesswoman and an inspiration to many.

See beautiful florals provided by Imelda’s team at Cali Wholesale Flowers featured in the Art Alive 2023 rotunda design in the Museum rotunda throughout Art Alive weekend, as well as in four Petal Pop-Up installations by Native Poppy around town leading up to Art Alive 2023.

Erisa Nicole

Bloom Bash Featured Musician
Musician Erisa Nicole

Erisa Nicole is emerging as one of the most distinctive and innovative musicians on the Smooth Jazz scene. Her 2x Billboard-charting single, “Good Feelin'” launched her Smooth Jazz career and audiences of all ages and backgrounds have been charmed by her riveting performances. Erisa Nicole’s music has been widely played in the UK and the US.

Hear Erisa Nicole play during Bloom Bash, the opening 21+ party to Art Alive weekend. She is an act you definitely do not want to miss.

Sadako Oehler

Art Alive 2023 Featured Legacy Designer
Sadako Oehler

Sadako Oehler is a professor of Ikenobo Ikebana and President of the Ikenobo Society of San Diego. She was one of the participants and demonstrators for the very first Art Alive in 1981 and has continued to participate regularly since that time.

This year we honor Sadako as one of the longest participating Art Alive legacy designers with a special tribute in the Art of East Asia galleries, on view throughout Art Alive weekend.

Laurie Shapiro

Bloom Bash Featured Contemporary Artist
Artist Laurie Shapiro

Laurie Shapiro is an installation artist and painter living and working in Los Angeles, California. Her work is featured in public and private collections worldwide; in addition to widely commissioned all-encompassing installations for clients including the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Otherworld, Walter Studios, and most recently, The San Diego Museum of Art. Shapiro holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Focusing on the intrinsic connection between all living species, Shapiro’s work both conceptually and physically brings people together.

“We Are All Connected To Each Other Through Nature” is an immersive, glowing tunnel installation made with repetitive screen-printed drawings of plant life, as well as layers of hand painting on clear vinyl. Hanging lanterns with the same patterns create colorful glows of light within and outside of the tunnel, turning the Museum courtyard into an interactive and glowing environment where visitors of all ages are encouraged to playfully interact with the artwork.

Laurie’s installation will be on view during Bloom Bash and throughout Art Alive weekend in the Museum’s sculpture court.

Amanda Witucki

Premiere Dinner & Bloom Bash Featured Contemporary Artist
Artist Amanda Witucki

Amanda Witucki is a self-taught paper sculpture artist working from her home studio in Austin, Texas. Her paper-folded creations rely heavily on repetition, creating a textural playscape for her vivid and unique color palettes. 

Using an origami module that resembles a geometric flower, she will create an expansive installation that evokes the rich vibrance of a lush tropical canopy. Witucki aims to connote the quiet magical beauty that is found in a rainforest, and has chosen a palette that celebrates the vivid colors of tropical flowers. 

Amanda’s art installation will be on view in Gallery 18 for the Art Alive Premiere Dinner and throughout Art Alive weekend.

Featured: Helen Frankenthaler, Warming the Wires, 1976. Acrylic on canvas. Private collection. © 2022 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.