Art and architecture at La Jolla’s Athenaeum.

The southwest corner of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla.
The southwest corner of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.

Visit the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla and you’ll find yourself moving through a warm, polished, light-infused world where beautiful dreams are sustained. Last weekend I stepped through the library’s doors and was amazed by what I discovered.

The Athenaeum is home to a large, regionally important collection of books and media concerning music and art, and a permanent collection of artwork. It is a repository for beauty that is timeless. The library is refined and welcoming, like a fine museum.

Each quiet room is a refuge for the contemplative mind. And a richly furnished temple for the heart. And a universe brimming with inspiration and creativity to nourish the human spirit.

The Athenaeum is one of only 16 nonprofit membership libraries in the United States. As you might imagine, it has a very unique history.

In 1894 a group of six women came together to create the La Jolla Reading Club. Five years later a cottage-like Reading Room was built at the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue. The most notable founding member, the first president of the Library Association of La Jolla, was wealthy newspaper publisher, philanthropist and La Jolla resident Ellen Browning Scripps.

In 1921 a larger Spanish Renaissance-style building replaced the Reading Room. The elegant new structure was designed by famous architect William Templeton Johnson, who also designed the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. Much of the funding for the new building came from Scripps. Kate Sessions, the horticulturist often referred to as the Mother of Balboa Park, planted an outside garden.

In 1957 the library opened the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room with its striking rotunda, designed by artist and architect William Lumpkins.

In subsequent years additional expansions were made, which allowed for the founding of the Athenaeum’s School of the Arts. Today the expansive library hosts art exhibitions, galas and musical concerts throughout the year.

How does one describe the rare beauty of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library?

Here are a few photos…

Posted at the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue are many cultural events hosted by the Athenaeum.
Posted at the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue are many cultural events hosted by the Athenaeum.
Plaque in Memory of Florence Sawyer Bransby, who purchased this corner lot in 1895 and on it built La Jolla's First Library, The Reading Room.
Plaque in Memory of Florence Sawyer Bransby, who purchased this corner lot in 1895 and on it built La Jolla’s First Library, The Reading Room.
People walk along Girard Avenue beside the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library.
People walk along Girard Avenue beside the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library.
Banner by window of the library building designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Banner by window of the library building designed by William Templeton Johnson.
Photo of the library's iconic rotunda, designed by William Lumpkins.
Photo of the library’s iconic rotunda, designed by William Lumpkins.
Bronze artwork near the Athenaeum's rotunda. Young Girl Holding Book by Merrell Gage, 1925.
Bronze artwork near the Athenaeum’s rotunda. Young Girl Holding Book by Merrell Gage, 1925.
Approaching the entrance to the Athenaeum.
Approaching the entrance to the Athenaeum.
A library cart full of books entices passersby.
A library cart full of books entices passersby.
By the front door is a plaque. This library built and furnished through the generosity of Ellen Browning Scripps.
By the front door is a plaque. This library built and furnished through the generosity of Ellen Browning Scripps.
Inside the beautiful, welcoming Athenaeum. Gazing east at shelves and windows.
Inside the beautiful, welcoming Athenaeum. Gazing east at shelves and windows.
Gazing west toward the the Joseph Clayes III Gallery.
Gazing west toward the the Joseph Clayes III Gallery.
When I visited the Athenaeum, I enjoyed an art exhibition in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery titled Music in the Key of Blue.
When I visited the Athenaeum, I enjoyed an art exhibition in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery titled Music in the Key of Blue.
As I walked about the library, I spotted many works in the Athenaeum's permanent art collection.
As I walked about the library, I spotted many works in the Athenaeum’s permanent art collection.
10 Items or Less, 1974, Kim MacConnel. Gouache on paper.
10 Items or Less, 1974, Kim MacConnel. Gouache on paper.
Sheet music collage by Alexis Smith, 1997, used for Athenaeum music program covers 2015/2016.
Sheet music collage by Alexis Smith, 1997, used for Athenaeum music program covers 2015/2016.
The Athenaeum, 2004, Derek Boshier. Hand-colored silkscreen print. Patron Gift.
The Athenaeum, 2004, Derek Boshier. Hand-colored silkscreen print. Patron Gift.
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 2002, Raul Guerrero. Ink and collage on paper. Patron Gift.
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 2002, Raul Guerrero. Ink and collage on paper. Patron Gift.
Gazing into the North Reading Room, which features Athenaeum’s Erika and Fred Torri Arists’ Books Collection.
Gazing into the North Reading Room, which features Athenaeum’s Erika and Fred Torri Arists’ Books Collection.
An exquisite bouquet of flowers by one bright window.
An exquisite bouquet of flowers by one bright window.
In Loving Memory - Ernest (Ernie) Silva 1948-2014. Trumpet Player and Light House, 2004. Ink on paper.
In Loving Memory – Ernest (Ernie) Silva 1948-2014. Trumpet Player and Light House, 2004. Ink on paper.
Untitled (Baby, It's cold Outside), 1999, Italo Scanga. Mixed media.
Untitled (Baby, It’s cold Outside), 1999, Italo Scanga. Mixed media.
Artwork on wall near the School of the Arts entrance.
Artwork on wall near the School of the Arts entrance.
I was told these pieces were all painted by teachers at the Athenaeum School of the Arts.
I was told these pieces were all painted by teachers at the Athenaeum School of the Arts.
Walking beside the Children's section of the Athenaeum.
Walking beside the Children’s section of the Athenaeum.
Linnea doll on shelf by the book Linnea in Monet's Garden.
Linnea doll on shelf by the book Linnea in Monet’s Garden.
Erika on the Portico of the Athenaeum, 2010, Grace Matthews. Tempera on paper.
Erika on the Portico of the Athenaeum, 2010, Grace Matthews. Tempera on paper.
Houseplant, Monstera Deliciosa, by artist Jean Lowe. Alkyd and acrylic on papier mache.
Houseplant, Monstera Deliciosa, by artist Jean Lowe. Alkyd and acrylic on papier mache.
Devil With a Blue Dress On, by currently exhibiting artist Jim Machacek.
Devil With a Blue Dress On, by currently exhibiting artist Jim Machacek.
Oh Grid, 2019, Sibyl Rubottom. Etching on linen with sashiko. One of many textile pieces by the artist currently on exhibit in the Rotunda Gallery.
Oh Grid, 2019, Sibyl Rubottom. Etching on linen with sashiko. One of many textile pieces by the artist currently on exhibit in the Rotunda Gallery.
Gazing toward the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room.
Gazing toward the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room.
Library of Music small plaque on drawer.
Library of Music small plaque on drawer.
More beauty on display inside the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room.
More beauty on display inside the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room.
A perfect place to read and think inside the sunlight-filled rotunda.
A perfect place to read and think inside the sunlight-filled rotunda.
Shelves with newspapers and magazines.
Shelves with newspapers and magazines.
Tantra Indigo, 2019, Sibyl Rubottom. Accordion book.
Tantra Indigo, 2019, Sibyl Rubottom. Accordion book.
Music breathes what Poet cannot write.
Music breathes what Poet cannot write.

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Art exhibition interprets Music in the Key of Blue.

Jim Machacek: Music in the Key of Blue, inside the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library's Joseph Clayes III Gallery
Jim Machacek: Music in the Key of Blue, inside the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s beautiful Joseph Clayes III Gallery.

A fantastic exhibition of work by San Diego artist Jim Machacek has recently opened at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. Yesterday I headed to La Jolla to have a “listen” with my eyes.

The abstract pieces of Jim Machacek: Music in the Key of Blue are arranged inside the library’s Joseph Clayes III Gallery.

According to the Athenaeum’s description, the exhibition “reflects Jim’s recurring interest in the concept of making music visual. Using his favorite media of printmaking, drawing, collage, and watercolor, he hopes to make YOU see what HE sees when listening to music. He chose favorite musical selections that have the word blue in the titles from a wide variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, blues, country, rock, folk, and standards.”

Among these emotionally evocative pieces you’ll find a unique visual interpretation of George Gershwin’s timeless Rhapsody in Blue. Seventy mixed-media prints cascade like living notes of music across the north and east walls of the sunlit gallery. Walk along these walls and you’ll feel like you’re moving in rhythm with a beloved American classic.

After you absorb this great art, take a leisurely stroll through the unique and historic Athenaeum. You’ll discover even more art in unexpected corners, and rooms overflowing with beauty wherever you turn.

Jim Machacek: Music in the Key of Blue can be enjoyed at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library through May 4, 2019.

The architecturally handsome Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is freely open to the public in La Jolla. It's a popular venue for art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.
The architecturally handsome Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is freely open to the public in La Jolla. It’s a popular venue for art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.
Sunlight filters through windows and shines on wood inside the Athenaeum's spacious Joseph Clayes III Gallery.
Sunlight filters through windows and shines on wood inside the Athenaeum’s spacious Joseph Clayes III Gallery.
Blue Wave, 2018, Jim Machacek. Blue Wave was a 1984 song by Eddy Grant, best known for his hit Electric Avenue.
Blue Wave, 2018, Jim Machacek. Blue Wave was a 1984 song by Eddy Grant, best known for his hit Electric Avenue.

Blueberry Hill, 2018, Jim Machacek. The popular hit song by Fats Domino, recorded in 1956, became a rock and roll standard.
Blueberry Hill, 2018, Jim Machacek. The popular hit song by Fats Domino, recorded in 1956, became a rock and roll standard.

Blue Cathedral, 2018, Jim Machacek. Blue Cathedral is a 1999 orchestral piece by American composer Jennifer Higdon, written in memory of her younger brother.
Blue Cathedral, 2018, Jim Machacek. Blue Cathedral is a 1999 orchestral piece by American composer Jennifer Higdon, written in memory of her deceased younger brother.
Lavender Blue, 2019, Jim Machacek. Lavender Blue is an English folk song and nursery rhyme dating from the 17th century.
Lavender Blue, 2019, Jim Machacek. Lavender Blue is an English folk song and nursery rhyme dating from the 17th century.
These mysterious, moody pieces interpreting Rhapsody in Blue are like notes of sheet music flowing across a wall.
These complex, moody pieces interpreting Rhapsody in Blue are like notes of sheet music flowing across a wall.
Fill your eyes with music.
Fill your eyes with music.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Japanese music, pottery in Balboa Park.

Today I walked into the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park just in time to listen to a wonderful small concert.

I seemed to drift into a living dream as I listened to extraordinarily beautiful music played on the traditional Japanese koto and shakuhachi. The musicians, Kyoko Takeda and Jon Crick, talked about the pieces they performed, and the instruments they played.

I heard flowing streams, and the wind, and deer calling, and raindrops, and notes rising and falling, and echoing mysteries, and perhaps even a whisper of the essence of life.

After the concert, I walked about the Exhibit Hall and enjoyed looking at the current exhibition, which is titled Tradition and Beyond. Five talented San Diego potters have used traditional Japanese ceramic techniques to create organic pieces. I saw a flowing, easy, natural beauty, spun carefully from the human spirit, much like music.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few stories I’ve written, visit Short Stories by Richard.

Amazing vistas atop Mount Soledad.

This morning I drove to Mount Soledad. A new winter storm is on the way, and the clouds are more dramatic than usual.

Breathtaking vistas open up at the summit of Mount Soledad. Standing beside the cross of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, I turned slowly about and took it all in.

To the north: La Jolla, Del Mar and the Pacific Ocean. To the northeast: University City. To the east and southeast: the distant foothills and mountains of East County. To the hazy south: tiny downtown, Mission Bay and Point Loma.

In every direction: amazing beauty!

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Festivals, fun and blossoms in Balboa Park!

Dancers entertain visitors to Balboa Park as the House of China celebrates the New Year at the International Cottages.
Dancers entertain visitors to Balboa Park as the House of China celebrates Chinese New Year at the International Cottages.

It’s February already, and beginning to feel a tiny bit like spring!

Visitors to Balboa Park today could enjoy many wonderful experiences: the Chinese New Year Festival . . . the International Dance Festival . . . and even a few early cherry blossoms!

As I walked in sunshine and scattered sprinkles, I took many photos.

Colorful young dancers on stage celebrate the Chinese New Year in San Diego.
Colorful young dancers on stage celebrate the Chinese New Year in San Diego.
Food, culture and sunshine (and some sprinkling clouds) at the Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.
Food, culture and sunshine (and scattered, sprinkling clouds) at the Chinese New Year Festival in Balboa Park.
A glimpse of the El Cid statue in Balboa Park on a spring-like Sunday in February.
A glimpse of the El Cid statue in Balboa Park on a springlike Sunday in February.
Sunshine on bubbles.
Sunshine on bubbles.
There's plenty of bright green down in the Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range.
There’s plenty of bright green down in the Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range.
A beautiful photo between the House of Hospitality and Casa de Balboa.
A beautiful photo between the House of Hospitality and Casa de Balboa.
Prado Perk's chalkboard indicates it's almost Valentine's Day!
Prado Perk’s chalkboard indicates it’s almost Valentine’s Day!
Athletes in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association gather during a time out during the Third Annual Brad Rich Invitational at Balboa Municipal Gymnasium.
Athletes in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association gather during a time out during the Third Annual Brad Rich Invitational at Balboa Municipal Gymnasium.
The ornamental pear trees are blooming near the Plaza de Balboa.
The ornamental pear trees are blooming near the Plaza de Balboa.
Members of the San Diego Bonsai Club work on small olive trees in the Casa del Prado.
Members of the San Diego Bonsai Club work on small olive trees in the Casa del Prado.
I spotted Captain America in the cafe of the Federal Building, future home of the Comic-Con Museum! (He's actually a cool member of San Diego's Science Fiction Coalition!)
I spotted Captain America in the cafe of the Federal Building, future home of the Comic-Con Museum! (He’s actually a member of San Diego’s Science Fiction Coalition.)
A beautiful spring-like day on El Prado.
A beautiful springlike day on El Prado.
I was welcomed to the International Dance Festival in the Balboa Park Club.
I was welcomed to the International Dance Festival in the Balboa Park Club.
Flags of many nations follow a bagpiper through Balbo Park as the annual International Dance Festival is about to begin.
Flags of many nations follow a bagpiper through Balboa Park as the annual International Dance Festival is about to begin.
Colorful banners approach the Balboa Park Club.
Colorful banners approach the Balboa Park Club.
Folk dancing begins!
Folk dancing is ready to begin!
A banner of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
A banner of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
Meanwhile, folks walk through the always beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden.
Meanwhile, folks walk through the always beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden.
Looks to me like spring is coming!
Looks to me like spring is coming fast!
A few early cherry blossoms are blooming in February at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A few early cherry blossoms are blooming in February at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Spring is around the corner!
Yes! Spring is around the corner!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you love Balboa Park? Check out my other website Beautiful Balboa Park!

Sunrise at Balboa Park’s Desert Garden.

This morning I spent a few minutes in Balboa Park’s Desert Garden, enjoying a beautiful sunrise.

I had hoped to take photos of new snow on the mountains east of San Diego, but they were too distant for my small camera. What I did discover as I walked down one path was completely unexpected, and indescribably powerful…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

An amazing Sunset Seat on the cliffs of Del Mar.

At the southwest corner of Del Mar, high atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean north of Torrey Pines State Beach, you’ll find a special seat. It’s called the Sunset Seat.

The Sunset Seat is a work of public art that was carved in the stump of a dead Torrey pine. The tree had been killed by bark beetles.

In 2015 this amazing public art took form. Inspired designer David Arnold and wood carver Tim Richards created a seat where anybody can sit and look out toward the ocean horizon, with a red-tailed hawk perched near their shoulder.

You can find the Sunset Seat a few steps west of a small parking area beside Camino Del Mar, a short distance north of Carmel Valley Road.

One day I will sit beside the beautiful hawk and watch a sunset.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!