La Jolla Art Association closes its gallery


A padlock on the cerulean gate is all that remains of what was once the La Jolla Art Association (LJAA) gallery in La Jolla Shores. After more than a year of financial struggles, the gallery quietly closed earlier this year. The Art Association itself will continue in a new home at the La Jolla Community Center (more details on the transition are expected in the coming weeks), but will no longer operate out of the 8100 Paseo Del Ocaso gallery, where it has been since 2007.

A notice posted on the website simply indicates “It’s been a great run at The Shores gallery. Thank you to the La Jolla Shores community for all the good wishes and support (through) the years.”

Facing a decrease in treasury and steady $2,500 a month in rent, in March 2018, the Art Association launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to help offset its expenses. Although the goal was $100,000, the campaign only raised $2,700. However, noticing its plight, artists and residents stepped up to try and help. Former LJAA secretary Raye Anne Marks told the Light that over the summer, visitors would often walk in with monetary donations and artists would donate pieces to sell (LJAA keeps a 25 percent commission on all works sold).

But it wasn’t enough.

“It simply ran out of money,” said former LJAA president Dottie Stanley, who is assisting with the transition to the La Jolla Community Center. “We scrambled and had a few fundraisers to build up our treasury, but the organization continued to decline and some decisions were made that were not the best.”

LJAA member Cindy Klong added that there is an inherent challenge for an organization that relies on membership dues and commissions to regularly pay rent.

“I was very saddened to hear the gallery had closed,” she said. “It’s a real loss because it was a hub in such a neat little part of La Jolla. It was always a welcoming place for artists and the community. I think galleries bring communities together. Everyone likes art and the process of going to a gallery is great entertainment and a way to meet and socialize with people. But you have to have the right spot with foot traffic, so I think the location might have been challenging. I’m going to miss it a lot.”

The move to — and from — La Jolla Shores is one of many in LJAA’s 101-year history.

The La Jolla Art Association was formed in 1918 when a small group of artists and art lovers met for tea at the home of Ellen Browning Scripps, according to LJAA’s history.

An organization soon formed, with notable founding members such as artists Maurice Braun, Charles Fries, Alfred Mitchell, A. R. Valentien, Alice Klauber, and architect William Templeton Johnson. The first art exhibition was at the Woman’s Club in La Jolla in 1919.

In 1921, the LJAA moved to the burgeoning Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. In 1955, it entered into a special deal to continue to manage and exhibit art work: $1 a year rent for 50 years. When that lease expired, LJAA moved.

In 2005, under the leadership of Shandel Gamer, LJAA moved to The Village Gallery at 7932 Ivanhoe Ave. Two years later, it migrated to La Jolla Shores.

At closing, members included: Jeffrey R. Brosbe, Tyla Colton, Jeff Comulada, Hugh Constant, Dick Ditore, Cindy Klong, Elizabeth Knight, Bill Kromydas, Connie McCoy, Raye Anne Marks, Jacqueline Nevels, Bonnie Owens, Linda Ross, Cherry Sweig, Thomas Tirado, Margot Wallace and Ingrid Wolters.

Sweig, whose grandmother was a founding member of the art association, has been a member off-and-on for 30 years. She said she was saddened by the closure.

“It gave an opportunity for there to be a community artist’s show, and gave a venue for people — not just in La Jolla but across San Diego — to show their work, but also teach if they didn’t have their own spaces,” she said. “And the receptions there were fabulous!”

La Jolla Light will continue to report on the LJAA as it transitions to the La Jolla Community Center.