The Coast News Group
Naomi Nussbaum courtesy of Dan Chusid Photography
A Brush with Art

Naomi Nussbaum has a great dream for San Diego art, culture


Naomi Nussbaum’s great dream is for San Diego to become an international cultural destination , providing sustainable opportunities for our creative communities. As a natural-born leader who thinks outside of the box, she has been working diligently towards that goal for nearly 20 years.Civil War in her native country of Zimbabwe motivated Nussbaum to immigrate to America in 1980. By way of San Francisco, Orange County and Del Mar, she finally settled in Solana Beach in 1987, where she still resides.

Serving as Visual Arts/Public Art Coordinator for the City of Carlsbad for over five years, she later worked as Director of Art and Donor Recognition with a private design firm through which she cultivated and managed projects for national healthcare and educational facilities.

In 2003 Nussbaum established her own business, Naomi Nussbaum Art & Design, through which she continues her work as an art consultant, donor recognition consultant, and curator.

She particularly enjoys commissioning local and regional artists for public art projects, working for the greater good of the community and beyond.

For three consecutive years Nussbaum has helped to curate the Sculpture in the Garden outdoor exhibition at the San Diego Botanic Garden, on view through April 15, 2013, featuring over 40 sculptural works, almost all created by San Diego artists.

For Nussbaum, 2003 was a pivotal year. She co-founded the nonprofit organization Synergy Art Foundation in response to the overwhelming number of artists who were profoundly impacted by the local wildfires. Synergy developed EASL (Emerging Artists Support League) grant program, specifically designed for professional visual artists in dire need.

Soon afterwards, a similar grant program was established specifically for musicians, dancers, actors, writers, filmmakers, and other performing art professionals (SD-PWER). Both programs provide emergency financial assistance to countywide professional artists afflicted by a medical crisis, accident or loss of personal or professional property.

As Synergy’s Executive Director, Nussbaum explains, “Our mission is to assist local, professional artists of all disciplines in distressed situations, to nurture and support local artists and arts organizations. With time, we have grown to include innovative arts educational programming and pioneering viable opportunities for our local artists. We particularly love to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations to grow the arts in our city.”

The organization also initiates programs in arts for healing, community arts and specific international and national art projects.

One of the many projects which Synergy pioneered is San Diego Space4Art whose mission is to establish sustainable creative communities in San Diego, Space4Art, located in East Village, has successfully established affordable live/work spaces and studios for local artists and arts organizations, providing exhibitions and performances in its community-built space.

Nussbaum says that once such projects are up and running, Synergy slowly lets go and applauds their independence.

Nussbaum says, “I believe we desperately need affordable work/live and studio space for our North County artists and the waiting list for these grows daily.”

She is currently making efforts to initiate such a project in coastal North County.

Jim Gilliam, arts administrator for the City of Encinitas, refers to Nussbaum as “one of the stalwart partners in the arts,” and says, “Naomi is the consummate professional. You can always be assured that if Naomi is involved, it’s going to be first class, with artists at the forefront.”

Nussbaum states that her core belief is that “Art is a catalyst for personal empowerment, creativity, community building and positive social change.”

In working to ensure the success of projects and all team players, she exemplifies how art serves to enrich lives and implement social change for the greater good.

Learn more about the Synergy Foundation at