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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
(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).