Architecture is La Jolla artist's canvas

Matthew Welsh     Photo: Courtesy
Matthew Welsh Photo: Courtesy

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

The third speaker in La Jolla Historical Society’s 10-part Contemporary Architects Making History 2011 Lecture Series believes art and architecture are inseparable.

“I think architecture is art: I approach it as that,” said lifelong La Jollan Matthew Welsh, an artist and designer, who will give a lecture titled “Working with La Jolla’s History” April 28 at 7 p.m. at Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect St.

The monthly lecture series features mostly local architects talking about their work and how it fits into the Jewel’s rich architectural tapestry.

A residential architect of note who favors historical remodels, Welsh’s projects include the (Harle) Montgomery and Odean Wellbaun residences, and most recently, Heritage Place’s restoration. Heritage Place includes the relocated Corey House, the residence of La Jolla’s first female doctor.

“We’ve saved some houses and restored the past,” said Welsh about his work.

A lifelong painter, Welsh said he took his first class in watercolors when he was 5 or 6. As a painter he’s done portraits of many of his La Jolla architectural clients, as well as having painted historical homes in the community. Those paintings currently are on display through mid-May at Wisteria Cottage.

For Welsh, function must follow environment in his work.

“The context of La Jolla is important to me in what I’m doing,” he said. “How does the building relate to that context — the natural environment, the ocean, the colors, the scale? How does it (structure) relate to the client’s life, what they’re going to use it for?”

Art is more philosophical and interpretive, architecture more material and concrete noted Welsh, who seems to have found a harmonious synthesis somewhere in between.

“With a building you have to deal with gravity, building codes, the client’s investment, etc.,” he said. “While a painting is subjective with colors and emotion and feeling. … In architecture, you actually build it and live in it.”

Architecture without art would be very sterile,” said Welsh, likening it to a filing cabinet with a purely utilitarian structure.

But when you combine art and architecture in the form of a home: “You have a wonderful place to live in,” he concluded.

Tickets are $10 for members: $15 for nonmembers. For more information visit




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