New mural in La Jolla puts viewers face to face with ‘juggernaut’ of consumption

"Hedonic Treadmill" by Einar and Jamex de la Torre is the latest Murals of La Jolla installation.
(Lynda Forsha)

‘Hedonic Treadmill’ by brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre combines many images, including scenes of La Jolla, with cultural commentary.


A new artwork commissioned under the Murals of La Jolla program has parked at 1162 Prospect St. for viewers to explore its multi-layered images and “take away whatever speaks to them,” according to its creators.

“Hedonic Treadmill,” by artists and brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, is an amalgamation of imagery including a car bursting with figures and representations of wealth, brightly colored scenery based on the La Jolla coast and symbols from both sides of the California-Mexico border.

The mural is named for a term that describes the continuing pursuit of one pleasure after another as happiness recedes to previous levels. “It’s a parody on conspicuous consumption,” Einar de la Torre said.

“[It] is a tongue-in-cheek poking fun at La Jolla wealth,” said Jamex de la Torre. “We are not inciting revolution; we just want to incite thought.”

Humanity is caught up in a “juggernaut” of consumption, Einar said, “and we don’t seem to know how to stop it.”

He added that he and his brother are part of that “in the sense we have cellphones; we flew to get here.”

The de la Torres, who are based in Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe and San Diego’s South Bay, have been creating art together since the 1990s, much of it in glassblowing and lenticular works (images that change depending on the viewing angle).

Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including a solo show at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum.

Murals of La Jolla is a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. It began in 2010 to commission public art on private property throughout La Jolla.

Currently, 15 murals are on display. Works are rotated every few years and are funded by private donations and selected by an art advisory committee composed of the leaders of several local arts organizations.

Murals of La Jolla Executive Director Lynda Forsha said “Hedonic Treadmill’s” combination of images and use of La Jolla iconography begets “an amusing and multi-layered image with commentary about our culture and community.”

"Hedonic Treadmill" is installed at 1162 Prospect St. in La Jolla.
(Lynda Forsha)

Einar said the brothers’ work “is very much a multi-layer of meanings. We welcome the public to look at it and analyze it and take whatever they want from it in the sense that it is open for interpretation.”

Forsha said she hopes viewers will “take the time to enjoy and analyze the vast array of images” in the new composition. “Artists introduce us to new ways of thinking and try to help us understand the world,” she said.

“Working with the de la Torre brothers has been at the top of our list for some time,” Forsha said. “We knew their baroque style and tendency toward complex and humorous content would add something entirely new to the roster of murals already commissioned.”

The artists’ inclusion in Murals of La Jolla is flattering, Einar said. “They have a great program with great artists.”

The brothers have collectors in La Jolla and have had pieces displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, so “we feel like [La Jolla] has been part of our history, too. We’re honored to be part of it.”

Public art is important to the de la Torres, Einar said, because “a dialogue with public art has to do with the fact that you’re getting people that don’t normally go to museums or galleries. They get to see art as well.”

“It’s a captive audience insofar as they’re going there for other reasons and you’re putting art in front of them,” he said. “That’s a great opportunity for artists.”

Next year, Murals of La Jolla will introduce a new site in a “highly visible location,” Forsha said, and four artists are in various stages of working on mural proposals.

The program and the Athenaeum also will begin sponsoring lectures by Murals of La Jolla artists and continue walking tours of the murals. ◆