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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: Roy McMakin
Is a Vase Worth More than a Bowl

November 8–December 27, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, November 7, 6:30–8:30pm
Walk-through: Saturday, November 8, 11am

Roy McMakin
Roy McMakin

The Athenaeum will present the work of Roy McMakin in the Joseph Clayes II Gallery November 8-December 27, 2014. McMakin will exhibit furniture-based sculpture, drawings of household objects and photographic work.

Roy McMakin is an artist who works in a wide variety of media. McMakin often incorporates furniture into his artwork. He combines form and function, furniture and visual art, to produce hybrid objects that can be non-functional or/and items of utility. His work often plays with scale and language, inviting both visceral response and conceptual contemplation.

McMakin has been the subject of exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle; and the Portland Art Museum. In 2010, Skira Rizzoli published a comprehensive monograph on McMakin, When Is a Chair Not a Chair. McMakin’s Favorite Color, 2010 is part of the La Jolla Mural project. McMakin graduated from UCSD and is currently represented by Quint Contemporary Art. He is relocating his studio Domestic Architecture from Seattle to San Diego. Domestic Furniture will remain based in Seattle. He lives in both San Diego and Seattle.

Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, November 7, 6:30-8:30PM and a gallery walk-through with Roy on Saturday, November 8 at 11AM. Both events are free.


Rotunda Gallery: Allan Morrow
Art Periodical Collage Series: Volume 2

November 8–December 27, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, November 7, 6:30–8:30pm

Allan Morrow

Allan Morrow will present Volume 2 of his collage series in the Athenaeum’s Rotunda Gallery. Although modest in size, the works are graphically powerful and created with flawless craftsmanship.

Morrow is one of San Diego’s best known local artists. His work has been exhibited locally at the Oceanside Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, among many other institutions, and dozens of galleries nation-wide. Allan studied at San Diego State University and San Diego City College.

The Art Periodical Collage Series was started in late 2002. Volume 2 of the series began in 2010. The raw materials for the series come from the pages of major art periodicals and art journals from 1972 to the present, including Arts, Art in America, ARTFORUM, ArtNews, etc., many acquired from the Athenaeum’s book sales. Holding onto these periodicals over the years started to take up valuable studio space. It occurred to me that I could collage the pages of the magazines into artworks, drawing upon the dynamic influence of history’s artists.

Allan Morrow

North Reading Room:
With Silken Twine:
Woven Paper by Merilyn Britt

November 8–December 27, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, November 7, 6:30–8:30pm

Merilyn Britt
Merilyn Britt

Merilyn Britt is a long-time resident of San Diego, who after a career in commercial book publishing discovered the fine art of printing limited-edition books by hand. Her paintings and books have been exhibited in local galleries, The San Diego Museum of Art, The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, and included in Mandeville Special Collections at the University of California, San Diego. This is her first exhibit of woven paper.

While collaborating with Brighton Press, San Diego, I explored plant dyes to print paper and silk. Then, after teaching solar-dyed pigments at the Paper and Book Intensive sponsored by the University of Iowa, I began weaving exceptional quality papers I collected from press trims and hand papermakers.

The lore of dyeing and its relationship with weaving led me to textile methods revealed by archaeology: anonymous artists of the loom. Contemporary wood and wire interweaving encouraged freer innovation with paper as weft in a harp of thread.

“Textiles can be utterly useless, fragile and curiously poetic and deserve to be admired in themselves.”   --Arthur Drexler on tapestry in 1956 group exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art


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

Michelle Montjoy Knitting

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 300 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, LUX Art Institute 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.



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.