Athenaeum Music & Arts Library to oversee Murals of La Jolla
By Pat Sherman
What began four years ago as an effort to beautify the Village of La Jolla with artistic murals on the walls of private buildings — starting with Kim MacConnel’s “The Girl From Ipanema” (7724 Girard Ave.) — has blossomed into 13 captivating public art pieces.
The project is the brainchild (as opposed the Brain/Cloud, John Baldessari’s mural at 1250 Prospect St.) of the La Jolla Community Foundation (LJCF).
To take the venture from a beautification project to an “outdoor museum,” with educational and marketing support, the LJCF board realized that the Murals of La Jolla would best be served as part of a well-established art institution in La Jolla.
As the LJCF sets its sights on other endeavors to beautify and revivify La Jolla, the nonprofit Athenaeum Music and Arts Library now assumes curatorial and managerial stewardship of the project to assure it remains a primary destination for visitors and an evolving, visual delight for locals.
On March 21, the LJCF’s board of directors voted unanimously to bestow the Murals of La Jolla to the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
“We’ve had many meetings about it and we are all very excited,” said Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri, who has served on a committee that selects artists for inclusion in the Murals of La Jolla since the project’s inception.
The Athenaeum was already a partner in the Murals of La Jolla, handing out maps with the locations of each mural and organizing guided tours, said Torri, adding that the project is a good fit with the Athenaeum’s mission to bring art and music to the people of La Jolla and San Diego.
“We are the oldest cultural institution in town (founded in 1899), but still people don’t really know what we do, who we are and how to spell our name,” she said. “We hope that this might also give us a little higher profile. … It will become an Athenaeum project, just like our other programs — the jazz or the exhibitions.”
Torri noted that several of mural artists have also exhibited work at the Athenaeum or are supporters of the institution, including MacConnel, Philipp Scholz Rittermann, Robert Irwin and Nina Katchadourian, whose whale eye mural on Prospect Street is the latest addition to the series.
“(Mural artist) Roy McMakin will have an exhibition with us in December,” she said.
The project was launched in 2010 under the leadership of Murals of La Jolla Art Advisory Committee Chair and art collector Matt Browar.
“I applaud the La Jolla Community Foundation for transferring the management responsibility of the Murals of La Jolla project to the Athenaeum,” Browar told La Jolla Light. “The success of the mural project has exceeded everyone’s expectations and I feel the Athenaeum will be a great ambassador for the project.”
Browar said four additional mural sites and artists have already been selected for future inclusion. The murals will be rotated out on a regular basis. The current Art Advisory Committee will remain in place. Along with Browar and Torri, it includes Mary Beebe, director of the Stuart Collection at UCSD; Hugh Davies, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) director and CEO; curator and art advisor Lynda Forsha; Quint Contemporary Art gallery owner Mark Quint; MCASD Chief Curator Kathryn Kanjo; and art collector Patsy Marino.
“We are confident that the Athenaeum will take the Murals to the next level under Erika Torri’s capable leadership,” LJCF board Chair Phyllis Pfeiffer added. “We are thrilled to have served as an incubator for this internationally renowned public arts project.”
Moving forward, Pfeiffer said the LJCF’s focus will be on “creating and maintaining inviting public spaces that will encourage community interaction, as well as providing grants to other local projects dedicated to enhancing the arts and culture experience for all La Jollans.”
LJCF Executive Director Julie Bronstein said a recent survey conducted by the foundation showed that La Jollans are primarily concerned with maintenance and beautification of the Village, and arts and culture.
“To that end,” Bronstein said, “we are working avidly to create a mechanism whereby we can partner with the City of San Diego aimed at improving the physical appearance of the Village area through private philanthropy. In addition, we have recently established a grants committee, chaired by Susan McClellan, which will identify funding opportunities in the arts and culture arenas.”
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Murals of La Jolla, call Erika Torri or another Athenaeum staff member at (858) 454-5872.
Donors who underwrite a mural entirely will be thanked on an adjacent plaque identifying the artist and title.
The all-volunteer La Jolla Community Foundation was formed in 2008, and is an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation. Its more than 50 members are dedicated to “improving the atmosphere, ambience, and cultural lifestyle of La Jolla.”
- La Jolla Community Foundation ramps up ‘Murals of La Jolla’ with three new installations
- Nina Katchadourian’s curiously captivating ‘Whale’ is latest in Murals of La Jolla series
- Dragon the Line: La Jolla Community Foundation unveils newest public art installation
- Athenaeum to host tour of La Jolla mural collection
- Mural No. 8 Arrives: La Jolla Community Foundation installs another public art piece
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