Art Association hosts tribute to Gerrye Riffenburg


La Jolla Art Association (LJAA) presents through Sunday, June 26, the one-woman show, “Gerrye Riffenburg: A Retrospective,” to honor the memory of the late artist. It features Riffenburg’s plein air landscapes, seascapes, portraits and still lifes. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday at 8100 Paseo del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores.

Riffenburg founded PAPASAN – the Plein Aire Painters Association of San Diego. She was also a member of the LJAA for some 25 years. Her works were often featured at the Cosmopolitan Art Gallery in the Village.

The show was curated by her husband, Robert H. Riffenburg, author of the textbook “Statistics in Medicine.” He designs medical research protocols and interprets the results of research conducted at Balboa Naval Hospital.

Riffenburg said his wife was born Geraldine Olive Harlow in 1929, on the Richmond, Virginia estate granted to her family in Colonial days by the King of England. Her father was a military man who became a captain of firefighters.

She attended college at William & Mary where she earned a B.S. and an M.S. in clinical psychology. Her master’s thesis, “Responses to Color Combination as Indices of Personality Traits,” was published in the Journal of General Psychology in 1959.

She met her future husband in college, and he went on to earn a Ph.D. in Statistics at Virginia Tech. The Riffenburgs ended up in San Diego as the result of his summer research at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Navy Lab on Point Loma. They bought the first house built in University City.

In the early years of their marriage, Gerrye was too busy raising five children to pursue art. But in the late 1970s, she went back to school at San Diego State University where she earned a B.A. with honors in Visual Art and was awarded a community college teaching credential.

LJAA treasurer Rae Ann Marks described Gerrye as “kind, elegant and soft spoken … an outstanding artist because of the way she painted shadows, which were always technically perfect.”

Riffenburg said Gerrye was very concerned about artists trying to make a living at painting because with the costs of paint and canvas, and the percentage galleries took, there wasn’t much left money left to live on. On more than one occasion, she flatly refused to sell one of her paintings to someone haggling her down in price because she said that disrespected all the time and costs involved in creating a work of art.

“You really want to sell your work to someone who will love it just as much as you love it! That’s the way Gerrye and I felt about it,” Marks said.

—Next up on the LJAA calendar is the annual fundraiser where art lovers can acquire a painting valued at up to $2,000 for $200. Patrons buy one of 50 raffle tickets for $200, and then select the painting desired in the order tickets are drawn at the raffle July 9. Sixty works of art have been donated to the cause by LJAA members. To view the works available, visit