Group grants funds for arts project

La Jolla foundation aims to connect residents, expand arts dialogue

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

The La Jolla Community Foundation is launching a community art program this week with a work by Kim MacConnel being installed on a Girard Avenue office building.

Called the La Jolla Arts Program, the project’s goals are “twofold — to promote dialogue and connection among residents as well as to enhance the beauty and aesthetic character of the community” by enhancing “previously nondescript spaces,” according to a press release issued this week.

“These newly activated spaces will foster interaction and conversation, adding to civic engagement and encouraging a sense of pride and community,” foundation board member Matt Browar stated in the release.

The La Jolla nonprofit, an affiliate of the San Diego Foundation, is funding the work, with the first grant going to MacConnel, a long-time resident of San Diego and an influential and renowned artist.

His work, which will begin going in today (AUG. 26), is a multicolor, large-scale mural on three walls at 7724 Girard Ave. Known as the Lapiz Building, the structure already sports a steel beam by noted Italian sculptor Mauro Staccioli crossing the building’s façade. The installation is expected to be finished by Sept. 1.

Browar noted there’s a six-member subcommittee choosing artists and their work for the program comprised of Hugh Davies, director, Museum of Contemporary Art: Linda Forsha, who ran the city’s Public Art Program; longtime art gallery owner Mark Quint; Michael Krichman, director of inSite, a San Diego-based, binational visual-arts organization; Erika Torri, executive director of La Jolla Athenaeum; and Mary Livingstone Beebe, director of The Stuart Collection for UCSD.

“We wanted the first wall mural to have a local San Diego artist and that is Kim MacConnel, " said Browar. “He’s a professor of art at UCSD and he really started the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s. That’s the reason why he was chosen: He’s been around a long time, he’s a great artist, he’s local, and it just happens that he’s collaborating with the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is going to be having a show for him in October.”

Eventually the goal is to find four or five locations in La Jolla to place public art.

“We need to have support from the local building owner and we can enrich La Jolla socially and culturally, so anybody that comes into town will have art surrounding them,” said Browar.

Browar added public art being exhibited through the program is likely to be changed out every six to 12 months.

Artists will submit proposals for specific sites to the arts program committee, all of which will be on private property with the consent of the property owners.

Phyllis Pfeiffer, chair of the La Jolla foundation and publisher of the Light, pointed to La Jolla’s deep connections to the arts as impetus for the program.

“In exhibiting the work of established local and regional artists such as MacConnel, the program will directly impact the larger arts community and support and participate in the exciting creative work that is being done in Southern California today,” she said. “Successful completion of this project will allow the Arts Program to invite additional artists to propose projects for the La Jolla community. This will expand the dialogue around contemporary arts and culture in La Jolla, exposing residents to the work of a diverse and talented array of artists.”

Formed in 2008, the La Jolla Community Foundation recently funded the fire pits in La Jolla Shores and, in addition, is working on an environmental project for the La Jolla coastline. The organization also is considering a number of different projects to fund in the future that encourage civic engagement and pride through local philanthropy.

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