The work of art: New show to explore the world of exhibits


Go behind the scenes of an art exhibition when the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla presents a new show revealing the invitations, artists’ portraits, exhibit photos, reviews and internal staff notes from more than 200 past art events at the Athenaeum.

“It All Adds Up: Celebrating 20 Years of Exhibitions” will be on display in the Athenaeum’s galleries, 1008 Wall St., from June 26 to July 31.

Adding excitement to the opening reception, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 25, will be a Secret Sale featuring sketchbook-size (8-by-10-inch) artists’ works for purchase at $200 each.

Modeled after the Royal College of Art’s annual secret exhibition and sale in London, the Athenaeum’s Secret Sale will be filled with the works of some 70 artists who have exhibited in solo or small-group shows at the library. These artists were asked to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the anniversary event.

The “secret” to this “sale” is that each piece will be displayed as an unnamed work. Artist identities will be revealed only after all the works have been purchased. Athenaeum members will be allowed one artists’ work per membership. Nonmembers may take part in the sale by becoming a member at the event.

There will be a preview of the sale works for the Athenaeum’s 2,200 members at the Benefactor or higher levels at 6:30 p.m. June 24.

Erika Torri, who became executive director of the Athenaeum in 1989, said the exhibition is part of several 20th anniversary celebrations this year — all marking the years since 1990 when the Athenaeum was expanded and exhibitions and concerts debuted in force.

“We have had shows at the Athenaeum since 1921,” Torri said. “But with the expansion to three gallery spaces in 1990, we’ve been able to host quite a few more outstanding artists’ exhibitions. This new show will bring visitors all the invitations, artist photographs and exhibition books created for those exhibits. There will be a lot to see!”

In June 1990, the Athenaeum opened the partly expanded gallery space in its original building, which was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style by architect William Templeton Johnson, who also designed the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park.

The expansion led to the Main Gallery, the Rotunda Gallery and the North Reading Room accommodating exhibitions. The reading room is used to display artists’ books from the library’s collection, and about eight exhibitions per year are presented in each gallery. All concentrate on San Diego artists and those who choose to use music, books or printing as their theme.

The Athenaeum has also established three major art shows: The Juried Show (for San Diego artists), a national Juried Artists’ Books Show, and the San Diego State University Art Council Scholarship Exhibition (for SDSU students).

Local artists who have exhibited at the Athenaeum include Patricia Patterson and Manny Farber, Harry Sternberg, Russell Forester, Italo Scanga, Jay Johnson, Roman de Salvo, Philipp Scholz Rittermann, Raul Guerrero, Jean Lowe, Kim MacConnel and Stephen Curry.

National artists have included Bill Wegman, Lenore Tawney, Derek Boshier and Nina Katchadourian; international artists have included Mauro Staccioli from Italy, Rolf Handler and Peter Dreher from Germany, and Zandra Rhodes from England.

If you go

  • Exhibit: ‘It All Adds Up: Celebrating 20 Years of Exhibitions’
  • When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays;

to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June 26-July 31

  • Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla
  • Admission: Free
  • Members preview: 6:30 p.m. June 24
  • Opening reception/Secret Sale: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 25
  • Participating artist roster:

  • Contact: (858) 454-5872