Of Animal Importance: Featuring the work of Laura Ball, Bell Baranceanu, Jeff Irwin & Walter Haase Wojtyla

Exhibition Dates

April 30 – August 14


Of Animal Importance, a four-person exhibition, showcases the work of San Diego artists Laura Ball, Belle Baranceanu, Jeff Irwin, and Walter Haase Wojtyla. With the depiction of animals as a subject, these four artists interpret the animal form through diverse media, each captivated by differing concerns ranging from human interaction with the natural world, animals as spiritual beings, and the wild beast within us all. Laura Ball and Jeff Irwin have both found enduring inspiration in social and environmental issues (conservation serving as a core undercurrent within their work). Ball’s watercolors transport the viewer to a realm of dreams where instinct and primal nature reign over moral judgment and mental dexterity. Irwin’s sculptural forms are delicate in their white simplicity, yet possess an undertow of violence, sharing a subtle bond with Walter Haase Wojtyla’s (1933 – 2014) aggressive paintings of canines. Ten block prints and one drawing by Belle Baranceanu (1902 – 1988), selected from the San Diego History Center’s own fine art collection, represent her as a key figure in the history of San Diego art.

What Does Art Tell Us About Our City?

This exhibition is driven by the History Center’s dedication to the San Diego arts community and to embracing the visual arts as part of a thriving, healthy environment. In 2016 the San Diego History Center launched “Art for the Next Century,” an initiative aimed at the presentation of art by regional contemporary artists as well as the preservation, display, and collection of historical artists who have contributed to San Diego’s rich cultural past. Through the lens of visual art we are creating a stage for discourse and discussion of larger civic topics and issues. Art serves as a window into the past and helps us reflect and think about our own individual and community identity. We invite you to enjoy this look at four talented San Diego artists and our relationship to the natural world.