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Logan Heights was awash with art lovers during a large neighborhood open house for the newly completed Athenaeum Art Center that opened to the public on Saturday, February 6th, 2016. The center is the new offsite campus for the Athenaeum Music & Art Library’s respected art school, which also still holds classes at their La Jolla headquarters. The open house was attended by people from all over the San Diego region—many from the southland who were unfamiliar with the venerable 116-year old La Jolla institution and its art schools. This is an important opportunity for the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library to share its resources with a broader community because the Athenaeum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in San Diego.

Entrance sign of the new Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights.

Entrance sign of the new Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights. Photo (c) 2016 by Kraig Cavanaugh.

In March 2015, their old offsite art school building was sold after operating in University Heights for 15-years, so the Athenaeum’s Joan & Irwin Jacobs Executive Director, Erika Torri, convinced the institution’s trustees to follow their old landlord, James Brown, to Logan Heights. There, Brown and other investors had renovated an old Weber’s Bread factory into a new art complex now known as Bread and Salt.

Director Torri said, “We plan to become very integrated with the neighborhood, with both in-house and outreach art and music programs for school students and adults. We are hoping for a very lively, creative, and successful future together. This is what this center means for us. Hopefully, it will be important for the overall San Diego art and cultural environment as well.”

(L to R:) Athenaeum Board of Trustees President Bob Black, Ginny Black, and Executive Director Erika Torri enjoying a floral display during the opening night festivities of the new Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights.

(L to R:) The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s Board of Trustees President Robert Black, Ginny Black, and the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Executive Director Erika Torri enjoying a floral display during the opening night celebration of the new Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights. Photo (2016) by Kraig Cavanaugh.

Since the 1970s, the Athenaeum has maintained outreach programs in San Diego area schools, which have steadily grown.  Now, the institution presents thirty mini-concerts in area schools throughout the year. As neighboring Bario Logan has become a magnet for artists to live and work. The potential synergy of the nearby Bario artists and the Bread and Salt art complex, with its new Athenaeum Art Center tenant, makes the outlook for the neighborhood area seem ripe with bright possibilities.

View from the atrium courtyard into the gallery space of the the new Athenaeum Art Center.

View from the atrium courtyard into the gallery space of the the new Athenaeum Art Center featuring glass garage doors that can be opened during during good weather. Photo (C) 2016 by Kraig Cavanaugh.

The new art school consists of three large spaces. Amenities include a flexible drawing and painting studio that can accommodate 45-students at a time. The complex also boasts a complete printmaking facility that also includes letter press, and it also houses a gallery space for both displaying artwork and allows for the presenting of musical performances. The school has a nice ambience as large glass roll-up garage doors inside the school surround an attractive semi-covered atrium. In good weather the large glass doors can all be opened to make the entire facility into a grand indoor-outdoor space.

Partial view of the painting and drawing studio at the new Athenaeum Art Center.

Partial view of the painting and drawing studio at the new Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights. Image (c) 2016 by Kraig Cavanaugh.

After the new Art Center’s neighborhood open house, The Night Owls members group of the music & arts library sponsored a grand evening carnival attended by 130 guests that featured music performed by the Euphoria Brass Band and Radio Pulso del Barrio. The lively event was also well catered by Iron Fist Brewing, San Diego Taco Company, and Tequila Fortaleza.

Athenaeum Art Center at Bread & Salt, 1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113

The Athenaeum Art Center is located between Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Dewey Street on Julian Avenue, in Logan Heights. Students should enter the Athenaeum Art Center via the alley off Dewey Street.

(L to R:) Erika Torri and Carol Buckley in the gallery of Athenaeum Art Center.

(L to R:) Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri standing alongside Assistant Librarian Carol Buckley in the gallery space of the Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights during the opening night celebration. Photo (C) 2016 by Kraig Cavanaugh.

(The Athenaeum was incorporated in 1899 as a membership library, which was common in that era. Today, there are only sixteen membership libraries still in existence in the United States—most of them on the East Coast. In 1986, the Athenaeum inaugurated its School of the arts. Since 1989 the institution has become an especially important cultural center for the region. That year its art exhibition and music series programming became possible after it was finally able to reclaim its La Jolla building on Wall Street from the San Diego Public Library system, which had occupied most of the building for many years. The Athenaeum also collects books created by contemporary artists, and their repository of such books has achieved world renown due to its encyclopedic breadth).

 

Kraig Cavanaugh

Kraig Cavanaugh

Kraig Cavanaugh lectures about art history—specializing in Modern & Contemporary Art—as well as being an instructor of color theory, design, and studio art. He has curated numerous art exhibitions, authored exhibition catalogues, and written art reviews for several other print and online journals including "Artweek" (USA) and "Selvedge" (UK) magazines. Cavanaugh is also an invited member of the Association Internationale des Critiques d'Art (United States division), which is an NGO in official relations with UNESCO.

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