Welcome to the Athenaeum's School of the Arts



Letter from the School of the Arts Director:


I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of our faculty for their flexibility, ingenuity, and dedication to our students in the last few months. Instead of cancelling an entire session’s worth of classes when the shelter-in-place orders came down, we were able to offer more than 15 different classes online via Zoom video conferencing.


I am incredibly grateful to our community of supportive and adventurous students who took a chance on this new way of learning and connecting with each other. The feeling of caring, connection, and community that the Athenaeum faculty are known for was still palpable in this virtual environment. The positive feedback has been so uplifting and has made all the hard work so worthwhile!


For the Summer Session, which runs June 22–August 16, we have decided to offer classes which could be taught just as effectively online as in-person. That way, we can be as responsive as possible in the weeks leading up to the start of the session.


If it is safe and prudent to do so, we hope to run some of our classes in person. And, if not, all the classes will be just as rewarding online. If you have a strong preference for either format, you will be able to indicate that during registration—“in-person only,” “online only,” or “either”—so don’t wait to register, as we anticipate more sold-out classes this summer, as we had in winter and spring.


Join us for another wonderful session of art-making, personal growth, and community-building this summer!


The annual student exhibition that was scheduled for the beginning of June at the Athenaeum Art Center has been postponed for the health and safety of our community. 


Please stay tuned for a new date for an in-person exhibition or a potential online exhibition if an in-person exhibition is not feasible.


As always, please reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns. As most Athenaeum staff members are still working from home, the best way to reach me is via email: adahlgren@ljathenaeum.org.



Amanda Dahlgren, School of the Arts Director


Since its inception in 1986 as part of the long-established Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, the School of the Arts has grown to reflect the artistic spirit of the San Diego art community. Our mission at the school is to provide educational arts programs which offer meaningful art experiences for all ages and to fulfill the library’s goal of having a depth and accessibility of resources and programs found nowhere else in the region. The School offers classes at two locations: La Jolla (1008 Wall Street) and at the Athenaeum Art Center at Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Ave, San Diego, California). Athenaeum students learn the history, traditions, and principles of the fine arts. School faculty are experienced artists as well as outstanding educators, dedicated to inspiring students of all backgrounds. The School provides the opportunity for individualized instruction in its intimate class sizes, allowing students to develop their own styles and artistic identities. Appropriate for the full range of student abilities and ages - beginner, intermediate, and professional artist - the School's curriculum includes courses that focus on helping students to develop technical skills, creativity, critical thinking, respect for diverse aesthetic and intellectual views, and the pursuit of excellence.


The School of the Arts currently offers weekly classes and weekend workshops during fall, winter, and spring sessions. Summer classes are typically scheduled in one-week blocks. Courses include drawing, painting, (oil, watercolor, acrylic, encaustic), sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, letterpress, book arts, photography, mixed media, floral design, and new media. The School publishes a quarterly brochure, listing scheduled classes, workshops, and other Athenaeum events. The class schedule is also listed online.


For more information, please see our class schedule online or in our printed brochure.


If you register for an art class online, note that our class registration system will list the class as “tickets.” Please feel free to call us and order over the phone if you have any concerns. 


For information regarding the Athenaeum School of the Art's policies regarding enrollment, payment, refunds, cancellations, art supplies, referrals, and scholarships please see our Policy section. For further information, to register, and/or recieve a copy of our current brochure, please call 858.454.5872


Financial support is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for the Arts and Culture.








Have you ever had the joy of helping another student pursue their dream to create art? If you would like to support a student scholarship, please contact Amanda Dahlgren at adahlgren@ljathenaeum.org or (858) 454-5872. Scholarships funded by a private donor have most recently helped two emerging artists at the Athenaeum.


“Nostalgic Still Life class has helped me gain more painting skills and the confidence that I need in order to continue my journey in becoming a successful artist. It was an honor being part of the class.”
–Desiree Lawrence, scholarship recipient


“Nostalgic Still Life painting class was a rewarding experience. The class covered more than just the basics of painting and of a successful composition. We had art talks discussing art as a business and tips on how to go out into the art world and sell. A very rewarding moment from class was the one-on-one talk with the instructor discussing goals with our artwork.”
–Karina Velasco, scholarship recipient