The Haerr Family: Art ‘dynasty’ exhibits in Bird Rock

Four generations of Bird Rock family’s work on view through August at the Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

The work of four generations of the Haerr family is on view through August at the Bird Rock Coffee Roasters Art & Music Collective, 5627 La Jolla Blvd.

Their talent started with great-grandmother Lydia Cooling, who emigrated from England and arrived on Ellis Island the day the stock market crashed in 1929. As the young mother of Molly Haerr, she made her way to the Midwest and raised her family in Peoria, Illinois. After a chance visit to Carmel, California, she and her husband bought a house and she began to paint at the age of 54.

“This is when my life blossomed,” she declared, inspired by the nature of Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove, Point Lobos, Carmel Valley and Monterey Bay. She opened an art gallery in Carmel. In 1969, the couple moved to Bird Rock, where she became a member of the La Jolla Art Association.

Her rough seascapes and still-life paintings instilled a love of art and inspired her grandchildren to paint — including Roger Haerr, Greta Kennedy and Paul Haerr. Many great-grandchildren also followed suit — including Julia, Margaret and Eric Haerr, who grew up in Bird Rock.

“When I think back to childhood, some of my earliest memories were of her art,” Roger said. “The colors she revealed to me excite me to this very day — Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange, French Ultramarine Blue, Viridian Green, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Ivory Black, Titanium White. These names conjure up colors that lift my spirits.”

Roger’s wife, Stacey, said she always had the desire to paint, but never the opportunity nor courage, when she was younger. She took her first painting class at a Bird Rock art studio in 2007, with lots of encouragement from Roger. She said she enjoys oil painting and the plein-air technique, and finds painting a calming, centering experience.

Julia Haerr, Lydia’s great-granddaughter, has been creating since she was a child. She is an accomplished pen-and-ink artist, watercolorist and printmaker, and also enjoys making jewelry. She is completing her degree in philosophy at Bard College, New York, and manages to keep her creative spirit alive through writing, sketching and exploring the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River.

Eric Haerr, Lydia’s great-grandson, is a senior at La Jolla High School. He said he’s been working with different mediums since elementary school when his father, Roger, provided him with journals and sketchbooks. Today, he favors pen-and-ink and is taking a figure-drawing class at UCSD. He has exhibited at San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park and at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.