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‘Homegrown’: Painter returns to his native scenery with new exhibit in La Jolla

Artist Jeffrey Carr's exhibit of coastal landscape paintings will begin Wednesday, Nov. 17, in La Jolla.
Artist Jeffrey Carr’s exhibit of coastal landscape paintings will begin Wednesday, Nov. 17, at St. James Gallery by-the-Sea in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Jeffrey Carr)

Jeffrey Carr, a longtime artist and former dean of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, is returning to his roots in La Jolla and elsewhere in San Diego with a new show that reveals his affinity for the colors and shapes particular to the Southern California coastline.

Carr will showcase his love for San Diego beaches in “Homegrown: Paintings of Southern California” beginning Wednesday, Nov. 17, at St. James Gallery by-the-Sea at 743 Prospect St., La Jolla.

The show, Carr’s first since retiring to Spring Valley in east San Diego County, will include 18 paintings, many of them showcasing Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, his favorite.

Carr will attend a reception at the gallery at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18. The exhibit will run through Saturday, Nov. 27.

Carr said his paintings are in a genre “based on East Coast paintings that has its roots in European modernist painting.”

He said he will have prints of the paintings available at the exhibit to make the art more accessible, as “people have tended to think of paintings as spectator sports.”

“I want people to think of a painting like an expensive novel,” added to people’s homes instead of viewed only in galleries or museums, Carr said.

Eighteen landscapes of San Diego beaches painted by Jeffrey Carr will be in “Homegrown: Paintings of Southern California.”
Eighteen landscapes of San Diego beaches painted by Jeffrey Carr will be included in the exhibit “Homegrown: Paintings of Southern California” at St. James Gallery by-the-Sea in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Jeffrey Carr)

“People are really intimidated about artwork,” he added. “They feel like they shouldn’t have an opinion about it, or they don’t know what to think about it. They should be able to judge paintings the way they judge music.

“I really like the idea of an informed audience.”

Carr’s career has included studying art at UC Santa Cruz, the New York Studio School and the Yale School of Art and teaching at several art schools and universities across the country and in Italy. But he’s spent a lot of it “California dreaming,” he said.

“I’m crazy about this [California] landscape because I grew up here,” Carr said. “I’ve been thinking about this landscape ever since I left here.”

After retirement and carrying for his wife, who died in 2018, Carr began to paint the landscapes he didn’t have time for while working.

“It’s hard to make art when you’re a college professor,” he said. “When I became a dean at the [Pennsylvania] academy, I was under the illusion that I was going to continue my artwork.”

Carr enrolled in his first oil painting class “in the basement of the old La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art” while attending La Jolla High School in the late 1960s, he said. “I found that, to my amazement, I could draw perfectly well.”

He said he remembers his first painting “vividly,” realizing “this is what I was meant to do.”

From there, Carr said, he became “addicted” to painting, launching a decades-long pursuit of his passion.

He said he’s drawn to landscapes because they have “moods,” and he’s particularly attracted to the colors and light within them.

“I think nowadays people think art is about being crazy or outrageous or upsetting or you’re supposed to be shocked,” Carr said. But “painting is like going to a concert of a musician you really admire. … You should go and understand that painting is an art form. ...

“There’s nothing remarkable about my subject matter at all. It’s entirely about the way it’s painted.”

‘Homegrown: Paintings of Southern California’

When: Noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment Wednesday, Nov. 17, through Saturday, Nov. 27. Reception with artist Jeffrey Carr from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.

Where: St. James Gallery by-the-Sea, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla

Information: Or to view the exhibition virtually, jeffreycarrart.com/exhibitions