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Athenaeum Art Exhibitions
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The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has earned a reputation as one of the outstanding art galleries and art collectors in San Diego. The Athenaeum’s art exhibition program, begun in the 1920s, has grown tremendously in both scope and recognition, particularly in the past 20 years.

Exhibitions are presented in three gallery spaces: the Joseph Clayes III Gallery, the Rotunda Gallery, and the North Reading Room. Approximately eight exhibitions per year are presented in each. Exhibitions in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery focus on nationally and internationally recognized artists. The Rotunda Gallery emphasizes community partnerships or emerging regional artists. Art in both galleries are related to the Athenaeum’s other focuses, namely books or music. Works have included limited edition artists' books, drawing, painting, site-specific installations, photography, sculpture, collage, mixed media, architecture, and calligraphy.

The North Reading Room, opened during the library’s expansion in 2007, is devoted to showcasing the Athenaeum’s Erika and Fred Torri Arists’ Books Collection. For each exhibition, one artist or press from the collection is highlighted.

Exhibitions have given deserved recognition to San Diego artists including Joyce Cutler-Shaw, Patricia Patterson, Manny Farber, Italo Scanga, Zandra Rhodes, Russell Forester, Ernest Silva, Faiya Fredman, Jean Lowe, Viviana Lombrozo, Becky Cohen, Nina Katchadourian, Ethel Greene, Robin Bright, Raul Guerrero, Ellen Phillips, James Hubble, Jo Ann Tanzer, Christine Oatman, Roberto Salas, Marie Najera, Kim MacConnel, Teddy Cruz, Adam Belt, Jim Lee, Jay Johnson, David Adey, Ellen Salk, Gail Roberts, Sondra Sherman, and Philipp Scholz Rittermann. Artists from across the U.S. and around the world have included Harry Sternberg, Mauro Staccioli, Marcos Ramirez (ERRE), Nathan Gluck, William Wegman, Faith Ringgold, Ming Mur-Ray, Rolf Händler, David Teeple and Peter Dreher.

The Rotunda Gallery features annual collaborations with the La Jolla Historical Society, the San Diego State University Art Council, and Children’s Hospital. Other community projects have included a fundraising exhibition for the Pacific Rim Parks Project.

The Athenaeum’s Annual Juried Exhibition, and Biennial Artists’ Book Juried Exhibition are among the most prestigious in the San Diego area, and the most sought-after by entering artists.

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s art exhibitions are on view during library hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission. Opening receptions, lectures and artist’s walk-throughs are also free of charge.

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Current and Upcoming Exhibitions



Joseph Clayes III Gallery:
Amanda Farber: Here

January 10-February 14, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, January 9, 6:30–8:30pm

Amanda Farber

Amanda Farber works with images derived from many sources: imaginary forms, personal memories, photographs, textile patterns, vintage illustrations and advertisements. Her paintings are loaded with high contrasts and rhyming negative spaces. Distortion or abstraction often blurs the line between two and three dimensions with an unexpected edge or a surprising surface. Farber’s eye and hand transform the ordinary objects of daily life into a resonant and evocative visual language.

Farber earned a BFA in art from Cooper Union, New York and an MFA from UCSD. Her work has been exhibited widely including most recently MCASD, Quint Contemporary Art, Protea Gallery and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. Farber currently teaches at Design Institute of San Diego.


Rotunda Gallery: Michelle Montjoy
the pit bull licked the baby's head and scented it with ham

January 10-February 14, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, January 9, 6:30–8:30pm

Montjoy looms
Michelle Montjoy's Looms

With familiar materials and techniques, Michelle Montjoy makes objects and images that are often simultaneously haunting and whimsical. Employing absurdity, obsessiveness, and abnormal juxtapositions her work observes suburban tropes, personal failings, and political paradoxes.
In the pit bull licked the baby’s head and scented it with ham, over 500 T-shirts were collected from friends and thrift stores, cut into strips that act as one continuous thread, and then knitted into twelve-foot forms resembling sleeves. The variety of stitches, shades of white, bits of logos, stains and holes, speak to the combined stories held in the shirts, all of which have served their original function. Hours of solitary knitting were balanced with joyful friend-filled sessions working on oversized hand-built knitting looms.

Michelle riffs on futility, ruminates on parenting, and turns those thoughts into a room-sized knitted hug that may or may not be comforting. Scale enhances the piece’s excessive sincerity.  With bittersweet humor and acid whimsy, She invites the viewer to consider the stories in the shapes.

Montjoy is a well-known Southern Californian artist. She has exhibited widely, including the Oceanside Museum of Art and Hanson Scott Gallery. Athenaeum gallery-goers will already be familiar with her work. Her sculptures and drawings have been selected for several of the library’s annual juried exhibitions; her work frequently recognized by the jurors with awards.

North Reading Room: Silhouettes and Graphic Spaces & PROCESS

January 10-February 14, 2015
& Februay 21-March 21, 2015


Silhouettes and Graphic Space, a display of artists’ books from the Athenaeum collection chosen to correspond with Ms. Amanda Farber’s work in the main Joseph Clayes III gallery. Choices include work from Ida Applebroog’s Dyspepsia Works series. Also on display will be István Orosz’s exquisite graphic exploration Etchings and Posters (1998).

The cabinets in the North Reading Room (NRR) will be filled with graphic images from many more wonderful books, including Michele Burgess’s Etchings of a Buried Memory, Felix Droese’s The New York Kunsthalle, Joyce Cutler-Shaw’s Bird Silhouettes, and William Kentridge’s morphing animals on type in Lexicon.

The exhibition PROCESS, featured in the NRR gallery from February 21 through March 21, focuses on art in progress. Torrey Pines High School student Alex Jen has chosen the works of three young artists, Cheeyon Park, Claire Kwon, and Anna Huang, who will display sketchbooks of preliminary drawings for potential future works. In a sketchbook, ideas may be recorded and shown, even if they are never to be realized, leaving the viewer to imagine what might have been. When actual artworks are created, they may depart from the initial thought on paper, and in another sense, some pages may become stand-alone works.

In PROCESS we witness three disparate artists at work: an abstract artist who usually works “big” but here presents “smaller” thoughts; one who showcases absurd ideas, and another who uses a quote from Romeo and Juliet to create an eight-piece series on paper.

Park, a freshman at Columbia University, typically treats art as “object,” working big and experimenting with mixed media and canvas to unexpected ends. In PROCESS, she scales it down and adds a twist on some familiar scenes around La Jolla.

Under the hand of Rancho Bernardo High School senior Kwon, figures and body parts are distorted to new effect, and colors combine for art that is a little off—just enough for people to stop and stare. Paint, colored marker, and scratchboard are used to make her sometimes funny, sometimes vulgar illustrations.

The Shakespeare series by Huang, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, is derived from Juliet’s monologue: And cut him out in little stars/And he will make the face of heaven so fine/That all the world will be in love with night/And pay no worship to the garish sun. Watercolor, gold leaf, colored pencil, and other media come together in an ethereal body of work where the background of starry, milky blue with overlaid text makes you think twice about Shakespeare.


Joseph Clayes III Gallery: Ernest Silva

February 21-March 21, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, February 20, 6:30–8:30pm

Ernest Silva


The work of renowned local artist Ernest Silva (1948-2014) will be presented in the Athenaeum's Joseph Clayes III Gallery. Ernest Silva's forty-year-long career as an artist had many highlights-impotant exhibits in Denmark, Italy, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego as well as a thiry-year teaching career at UCSD. He was also co-creator and co-curator of the first inSite in San Diego in 1992. Ernie exhibited at the Athenaeum in 1997 and 2004 and several of his drawings and paintings are in the Atheaneum's permanent collection.

Silva called himself a "visual storyteller". Robert Pincus wrote in a review in the San Diego Union-Tribune in May 2007: "Silva often blurs the line between sky and earth. In fact, much of the time there is no solid ground at all. People look like they are inhabiting groung that may be water." In the catalogue for his Athenaeum exhibition Windows of War/Fire on Tranquil Seas in 2004, Silva wrote: My work is (...) a battle between secure destinations and the way life seduces us into the unexpected and previously unconsidered."

Rotunda Gallery: Joshua Miller
New Works

February 21-March 21, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, February 20, 6:30–8:30pm

Joshua Miller

For his solo exhibition at the Athenaeum, Joshua Miller will be exhibiting the newest iteration of his porcelain plates. Hand-thrown, carved and glazed, the objects are then hung in conjunction with found, sculpted, or painted objects. Though luscious and physically substantial, the plates function primarily as a sculptural sketch space in which the artist can quickly explore, without filter or reservation, the emotional and physical underpinnings of his larger paintings.

Joshua Miller utilizes a broad collection of antique figurative objects as a starting point for his materially rich paintings and sculptures. The resulting works employ traditional devices such as still life, tableau vivant, and rebuses as a means of interrogating the psychological nature of the figurines and of collaging languages of representation.

Miller (born 1981) has been included in recent exhibitions at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Singapore; Universidad del Pais Vasco, Bilbao, Spain; Galeria Alternativa Once, Monterrey, Mexico; Helmuth Projects, San Diego; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; and UCLA’s New Wight Gallery. He is in his thesis year at UCSD’s Graduate Visual Arts program, received his BFA from UCLA, and recently attended Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Miller lives and works in San Diego and Los Angeles.