“A Revelation”: The Athenaeum’s 30th juried exhibit opens in La Jolla this weekend – La Jolla Light | Candle Made Easy

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s juried exhibition, La Jolla’s landmark annual showcase of local creativity, begins its 30th edition with a public reception on Friday, July 29.

The exhibition, which runs through Saturday September 3, also marks the first event for the Athenaeum, to be led by its new executive director, Christie Mitchell, whose first full day of work was July 20.

A record 316 artists submitted almost 900 works for consideration. Judges Anita Feldman, associate director of curatorial affairs and education at the San Diego Museum of Art, and visual artist Marianela de la Hoz then selected 41 works by 40 artists for the exhibition.

The 6:30-8:30pm reception will bring together artists and art lovers and announce first, second, third place, honorable mentions and the Leslie Von Kolb Memorial Award.

Feldman, who has organized exhibitions in 28 countries, said she most looks forward to the opportunity to showcase the artists, many of whom are unknown.

“This is really interesting for me as a curator in San Diego,” she said. “Discovering these artists here in San Diego, where we live, is a revelation.”

Although there were no criteria for submission or judging, Feldman said there was a certain delicacy to some of the selected works.

One by Morey Asato is “just the most incredible photo of a group of nasturtiums,” Feldman said. “I honestly don’t know how this photo is taken. … There’s a fragility and a kind of poetry to it.”

One work by Elizabeth Burger consists of a shell and copper nails. “There’s something about those tiny nails that get stuck into this piece of shell that makes you think of things like destruction and sacrifice, but also the fragility of our world,” Feldman said. “It’s very poignant.”

Another group of artists submitted works “that seem to have this kind of slightly surrealistic, darker, mysterious side,” Feldman said.

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s Juried Exhibition features 41 works by 40 artists.

(Courtesy Athenaeum Music & Arts Library)

To be considered for the judging exhibition, artists must live or work in San Diego County or Tijuana and submit digital images of up to three works created within the past five years.

De la Hoz, who has exhibited her egg tempera paintings worldwide and has never served as a judge, said she was initially intimidated to judge other artists’ work.

“It was weird for me,” she said.

Nonetheless, with her artistic eye, she sought originality and message in each work, along with the composition.

After only seeing images of the pieces, de la Hoz said she was excited to see the works in person.

“I know that seeing an artwork on a screen and seeing the actual piece is a completely different experience,” she said. “I’m waiting for the surprises.”

Feldman, who has served as a juror for other institutions but not the Athenaeum, said, “It’s always very interesting to see the spectrum and the interests. … There is a great variety of artists and subjects.”

La Jolla photographer and marine scientist Oriana Poindexter — whose cyanotype, a photographic work created without a camera using sunlight, was selected for the exhibit — said the reception was her favorite part of the exhibit (she has been selected once before).

“It’s a blessing to meet other artists who face similar challenges as I do when it comes to bringing work into the world,” she said.

Poindexter, who creates her work from seaweed and seaweed she collects in La Jolla waters, said the Athenaeum is “an incredible institution in La Jolla, super unique.”

“It’s always wonderful to see your own work on a wall outside of your home,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the other works selected.”

A juried exhibition is a common concept for community-based arts organizations, and Feldman said shows like the Athenaeum’s are important because “it’s really, really hard for struggling local artists to get their work seen. There aren’t many galleries in San Diego. Most of the galleries are in Los Angeles and I think that’s a big problem for the city.”

For aspiring artists, a juried exhibition is “very good practice for growing as an artist and being brave enough to show your work,” de la Hoz said.

Mitchell said the Athenaeum show was “an amazing thing to be my first to oversee [event] as executive director”, although she was not involved in the planning.

“It’s an important thing for a lot of the local art community,” she said.

Mitchell, who took over longtime Athenaeum company Erika Torri, who will become executive director emeritus, said the Juried Exhibition was “a great way to showcase local talent. We are an institution that has historically engaged deeply with local artists and been a real place and resource for them. This is a very special way of celebrating that legacy and our own as well.”

The exhibition and reception are free. The Athenaeum at 1008 Wall Street is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit ljathenaeum.org/juried-exhibition.

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