La Jolla’s passion lives on

Since the late 1800s, when a cluster of cottages called the Green Dragon Colony became a gathering place for traveling artists, the village of La Jolla has been a mecca for art. Art inspires imagination, stimulates conversation, and stirs the soul. It also helps build community. Today, La Jolla is a vibrant community of artists, art collectors, and art with an incredible number of galleries, studios, libraries, and museums for us to enjoy.

Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla | SWISH
Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla | SWISH


After undergoing a $105 million renovation and expansion by world-renowned Selldorf Architects, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s La Jolla building is itself a stunning piece of art. Now measuring 40,000 square feet with soaring twenty-foot-tall ceilings, the museum’s inaugural collection embraces artistic innovations from 1950 to current day. The focus is on the ongoing legacies of abstraction in arts of the Americas, including the Borderlands and Southern California’s Light and Space Movement. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect Street, Open Thu–Sun, 10 am–4 pm, mcasd.org

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

Devoted exclusively to music and art, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is a rare cultural institution that offers a depth and accessibility of resources and programs found nowhere else in the San Diego area. Members can check materials out from the library’s collection of art books, musical scores, LPs, children’s books, and more. Members also receive discounts on events including art lectures, jazz, acoustic, and chamber music concerts, and studio art classes. The Library is free and open to the public five days a week, with regular exhibitions on view in a historic 1920s building. Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall Street, Open Tue–Sat, 10 am–5:30 pm, ljathenaeum.org

One of the Athenaeum’s ongoing projects is Murals of La Jolla, which provides a public platform for world-class artists to create commissioned site-specific works. There are 15 mural sites around La Jolla. Murals stay on view for approximately two years. Current murals include projects by John Baldessari, Chitra Ganesh, June Edmonds, and Marcos Ramirez ERRE. Various sites (see map online) around La Jolla, Open 24/7, muralsoflajolla.com

ERRE 2020 by Marcos Ramirez
ERRE 2020 by Marcos Ramirez

There always seems to be something of interest for art enthusiasts at La Jolla Community Center, a vibrant nonprofit that hosts a robust calendar with art exhibits, demonstrations, and classes. La Jolla Community Center also serves as the home gallery for La Jolla Art Association’s more than 50 local artists. Every two months, a new collection of artwork by these members is installed on the center’s walls and offered for sale, with a portion of each sale benefitting programs and events at the center. La Jolla Community Center, 6811 La Jolla Boulevard, ljcommunitycenter.org

La Jolla Project, 1984 by Richard Fleischner at Stuart Collection UC San Diego | Philipp Scholz Rittermann
La Jolla Project, 1984 by Richard Fleischner at Stuart Collection UC San Diego | Philipp Scholz Rittermann

The 1,200-acre campus of UC San Diego provides an inspiring landscape for contemporary sculpture. The Stuart Collection has commissioned more than 20 leading artists to create outdoor sculptures that are site-specific. Many of the installations are fused to university buildings or integrated into the grounds. Visitors are welcome to download a walking tour map on the collection’s website and follow the suggested walking tour any time. UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, stuartcollection.ucsd.edu.

Stuart Collection’s Bear 2005 by Tim Hawkinson
Stuart Collection’s Bear 2005 by Tim Hawkinson
Artist Eva Struble in her studio
Artist Eva Struble in her studio


Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
Eva Struble: Midden
January 14–March 3, 2023
Entitled Midden, which means refuse heap, this body of new work by Eva Struble is an exploration of landscapes. They are dreamlike, rendered in strange hues, multiple textures, and painting styles, remaking familiar landscapes into uncanny sites. Struble takes inspiration from locations such as a theatre hidden in the woods of Topanga, CA, to the graffitied rainwater tunnels of Adobe Falls in San Diego, to oyster farms on the Olympic Peninsula, which the artist explored on foot over the past several years before creating this work.

Murals of La Jolla
Guided Walking Tour
Last Wednesday each month
This free, scheduled walking tour begins at 5:30 pm on the front steps of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. Reservations are required and the tour is limited to a maximum of 35 guests. Participants can expect to walk at a slow pace as they cover several blocks and visit about one-third of the installations. Tours last about 90 minutes. A self-guided tour with a downloadable mural map is also available online.

La Jolla Community Center
La Jolla Art Association Demonstrations
Last Thursday each month
La Jolla Art Association presents live art demonstrations where a local artist creates a piece of art in real time from a variety of media including oil, watercolor, acrylic, digital, and more. Reservations are required and can be made online.
Thursdays: January 26 Valerie Saiag and the artist and self-branding, February 23 Kathryn Stephens and mixed media, March 23 Cheryl Flemming and plein air oil painting

Watercolor with Wine Wednesdays, 4-week course
La Jolla Community Center invites everyone to come to experiment, explore, and challenge themselves. Taught by award-winning artist, Minnie Valero, students gain confidence and an understanding of watercolor as they play and paint. Enrollment: $79 (members); $99  (nonmembers). The material list is available on the website.
Wednesdays: January 11, 18, 25, & February 1 from 3–5 pm

Museum of Contemporary Art
Free to the Public
Second Sunday & Third Thursday each month
Made possible with support from The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the second Sunday free programming, called Prebys Play Day, includes tours especially created for multigenerational participants, at-your-own-pace guides, hands-on art-making activities, an accessible food program, and transportation.
Sundays: January 8, February 12, March 12
Thursdays: January 19, February 16, March 16