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‘Marking Time’: New exhibit at La Jolla’s Athenaeum queues up quarantine creations

Sibyl Rubottom created an artist book titled “The ABC of COVID: Z is for Zoom.”
Sibyl Rubottom, the first artist Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri chose to exhibit in 1990, created an artist book titled “The ABC of COVID: Z is for Zoom,” part of the Athenaeum’s new exhibit, “Marking Time.”
(Elisabeth Frausto)

While some people spent the past 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic counting masks and bottles of hand sanitizer, others took to canvas, ceramics and other media to create. La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has opened an exhibit clocking such creativity.

“Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine” is open now through Friday, July 9, featuring works by 49 artists who either had a solo show at the Athenaeum in the past 30 years or were commissioned to design a concert program cover. The Athenaeum invited them all to reveal something they had created since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.

"Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine" contains works from 49 artists.
“Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine” contains works from 49 artists who have previously created for the Athenaeum.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Athenaeum members can visit the exhibit during regular operating hours; non-members by appointment.

At an artists-only reception May 14, nearly all of the included artists gathered to view the works in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery and other Athenaeum spaces.

Some captured quarantine hobbies. Irène de Watteville submitted two pieces in porcelain, one a series of tiles with bees she created after trying to raise her own bees. “It didn’t work,” she said. “It’s just curious what some people did, like meaningful things.”

Artists Irène de Watteville (left) and Beliz Iristay are included in the Athenaeum's "Marking Time" exhibit.
Irène de Watteville (left) and Beliz Iristay are two of the artists whose work is featured in the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s “Marking Time” exhibit.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Beliz Iristay said it is “so exciting” to show several ceramic pieces she created during the pandemic, including a gold-plated inhaler she cast after contracting COVID-19. She had to take a six-month break because of the illness.

“We all have these ups and downs,” she said. “Mine is very different than the other one, and the other one is different than other ones, so it’s very nice to see the observations of each artist.”

Amanda Farber’s painting “Floater” is her version of “these little things in your eye,” with hooves and stars and wings represented.

Having the piece in the exhibit is “wonderful,” she said. “It’s a lot of work … it emphasizes the dreamscape.”

Marcos Ramirez ERRE's "Perspectives 2020" is on view at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Marcos Ramirez ERRE’s work “Perspectives 2020” is a tilted painting of the White House with a tilted wooden chair placed a few feet in front, signaling that “everybody has different opinions and different perceptions,” he said.

Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri said that during the pandemic, she noticed musicians were “upset that they did not have a gig” and figured that also might be true for artists who had created for the Athenaeum during her 32 years at the venue’s helm.

In inviting them to create for “Marking Time,” the artists would have a goal, “something to look forward to,” Torri said. “Many of them said, ‘That was the right thing; it gave me an energy again.’ We did it for the artists.”

Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri speaks to artists and guests during the opening reception for "Marking Time."
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Addressing the artists at the reception, Torri said “Marking Time” is “the crème de la crème of exhibitions, because we picked you out to begin with.” She pointed out Sibyl Rubottom, the first artist Torri chose to exhibit in 1990, and Paula McColl, the most recent artist to show her work at the Athenaeum.

“All of you are very close to our heart,” Torri said.

Athenaeum board member Catherine Palmer said “Marking Time” represents Torri’s years of “welcoming the community into the Athenaeum. … What she’s created is ... a place for local artists to come. People come from all over the country, sometimes they travel internationally to show here.”

"Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine" is open through Friday, July 9.
“Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine” is open through Friday, July 9, at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The Athenaeum’s ability to keep exhibits going in limited formats and increase its online offerings during the pandemic “makes me realize that what we do here is really, really good,” Palmer said.

‘Marking Time’

When: Through July 9. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays for Athenaeum members; by appointment for non-members.

Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla

Cost: Free

Information: (858) 454-5872 or info@ljathenaeum.org

Website: ljathenaeum.org