Four evening lectures in La Jolla to explore state of ‘art’

Art history lecturer Derrick Cartwright, Ph.D. will host a four-part series to explore, “What’s wrong with this picture? Some problems of art in our time,” 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, May 13, 20, 27 and June 3 at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St.

The point of these lectures is not to bemoan our predicaments or to offer negative judgments; rather it will be to identify more clearly the prevailing creative conditions of our contemporary moment and ask, “How did our art world get to be this way?”

■ May 13: “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” The first lecture will tackle a long history of artists who have deliberately refused to be bound by traditional aesthetic categories. It will focus on ways their work has contributed to new ways of seeing the world.

■ May 20: “Tulipmania, Then and Now,” will consider lessons to be gained by studying ebullient markets for art as well as the historical ramifications of those “hot” markets for collectors (both public and private).

■ May 27: “The Problem with Participation,” will inspect the strategies employed by artists and by institutions to deepen audience engagement and just what this means for our everyday encounters with objects.

■ June 3: “What Happens in Detroit,” looks at the conditions of art communities under financial duress and, while it hopes for the best, offers a cautionary outlook for future growth of museums.

— Tickets for the four-part series are $50 members/$70 non-members; individual lectures: $14 members/$19 non-members at (858) 454-5872.