‘The Scripps Gill Loggia’: New La Jolla mural showcases famed collaboration

“The Scripps Gill Loggia,” the latest mural of Murals of La Jolla, was installed July 30 at 7905 Herschel Ave.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Rex Southwick’s painting on Herschel Avenue is an image of Ellen Browning Scripps’ home that was designed on Prospect Street in 1916 by architect Irving Gill.


A new mural in La Jolla honors the relationship between two of the community’s best-known builders and more, bringing together several connections in an image that showcases “duality,” the artist says.

“The Scripps Gill Loggia,” installed July 30 on the Citibank building at 7905 Herschel Ave. in The Village, is a painting designed by London-based Rex Southwick for the Murals of La Jolla program, a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

The mural is an image of Ellen Browning Scripps’ home, South Molton Villa, that was designed on Prospect Street in 1916 by local architect Irving Gill after the original house, built in 1897, burned down in 1915.

“The Scripps Gill Loggia” occupies the largest Murals of La Jolla site, formerly taken by Kota Ezawa’s “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

Southwick, who had a residency earlier this year at the Palm Springs Art Museum, created the mural for its site, struck by the scale of the location on a visit to La Jolla.

He wanted to design something specifically for La Jolla, he said, and he was impressed by Scripps’ home, which became the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

“I loved the soft arches,” Southwick said.

“The Scripps Gill Loggia” includes features that highlight the collaboration between Irving Gill and Ellen Browning Scripps.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

He spent time researching local architecture and discovered Gill’s prolific work. He noted that several of Gill’s buildings in La Jolla were commissioned by Scripps (La Jolla Woman’s Club, La Jolla Recreation Center and more).

It made sense to focus on both Gill and Scripps, Southwick said. “I thought it was something worth showcasing.”

In sketching the mural, he visited the La Jolla Historical Society to comb through the archives for images of Gill’s South Molton Villa being built.

The mural shows Southwick’s penchant for hyper-saturated colors but is painted in bluer and whiter hues than he normally uses to align with La Jolla’s coastal feel and contrast with the site’s brick-wall background, Southwick said.

“The task was to get something that was fresh and something with depth to it,” he said.

“We selected Rex Southwick because we liked his storytelling and social commentary told through his paintings of modern architecture, juxtaposed with the labor required to construct and maintain them,” said Patsy Marino, chairwoman of Murals of La Jolla.

“We hoped he would research our seaside town, as is his custom with new work, and tell us a story we had not heard before. He did exactly that.”

“The Scripps Gill Loggia” is Southwick’s first mural and first piece of public art. He usually takes on large paintings but said he didn’t “appreciate how huge” the site is until he stood in the adjacent parking lot to study it.

“As this mural site is the largest in the Murals of La Jolla collection, the artist had to be thoughtful about his use of color, subject matter and scale,” Marino said.

The mural’s “great big overbearing arch” connects to the inclusion of arches as symbols of triumph throughout Europe, such as in London and Paris, Southwick said. “It’s a triumphant arch for these two really important people.”

Another European connection: Scripps named the house South Molton Villa because she was born into a house on South Molton Street in London in 1836.

“South Molton Street in London is a 10-minute walk from my house and studio,” Southwick said. “The gallery that represents me in London is at the end of that street.”

The duality further explored in the mural — there are two workers, two palm trees and two columns — is “quite a nice simple nod” to the collaboration of Scripps and Gill, Southwick said. ◆