Athenaeum Music & Arts Library gallery collections

Art Exhibitions


Zandra Rhodes: Some Artworks


Mid-October 2020


The Athenaeum is pleased to present Zandra Rhodes: Some Artworks, a collection of paintings, drawings, and prints, along with small items hand-painted and designed by Zandra Rhodes, which will be exhibited and available for purchase in the Clayes and Rotunda Galleries.


Selections of recent acquisitions from the Athenaeum's collection of artists' books will be on display in the North Reading Room.


The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has earned a reputation as one of the outstanding art galleries and art collectors in San Diego. The Athenaeum’s art exhibition program, begun in the 1920s, has grown tremendously in both scope and recognition, particularly in the past 20 years.


Exhibitions are presented in three gallery spaces: the Joseph Clayes III Gallery, the Rotunda Gallery, and the North Reading Room. Approximately eight exhibitions per year are presented in each. Exhibitions in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery focus on nationally and internationally recognized artists. The Rotunda Gallery emphasizes community partnerships or emerging regional artists. Art in both galleries are related to the Athenaeum’s other focuses, namely books or music. Works have included limited edition artists' books, drawing, painting, site-specific installations, photography, sculpture, collage, mixed media, architecture, and calligraphy.


The North Reading Room, opened during the library’s expansion in 2007, is devoted to showcasing the Athenaeum’s Erika and Fred Torri Arists’ Books Collection. 


The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s art exhibitions are on view during library hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission. Opening receptions and artists' walk-throughs are also free of charge.


The Rotunda Gallery features annual collaborations with the San Diego State University Art Council and Children’s Hospital. Other community projects have included a fundraising exhibition for the Pacific Rim Parks Project.

The Athenaeum’s Annual Juried Exhibition is among the most prestigious in the San Diego area and the most sought-after by entering artists.


Exhibitions have given deserved recognition to San Diego artists including Joyce Cutler-Shaw, Patricia Patterson, Manny Farber, Italo Scanga, Zandra Rhodes, Russell Forester, Ernest Silva, Faiya Fredman, Jean Lowe, Viviana Lombrozo, Becky Cohen, Nina Katchadourian, Ethel Greene, Robin Bright, Raul Guerrero, Ellen Phillips, James Hubble, Jo Ann Tanzer, Christine Oatman, Roberto Salas, Marie Najera, Kim MacConnel, Teddy Cruz, Adam Belt, Jim Lee, Jay Johnson, David Adey, Ellen Salk, Gail Roberts, Sondra Sherman, and Philipp Scholz Rittermann. Artists from across the United States and around the world have included Harry Sternberg, Mauro Staccioli, Marcos Ramirez (ERRE), Nathan Gluck, William Wegman, Faith Ringgold, Ming Mur-Ray, Rolf Händler, David Teeple, and Peter Dreher.

San Diego Union-Tribune


Our finest art: 5 paintings to check out right now in San Diego

By G. James Daichendt Writer 

Jan. 8, 2020


“Untitled (blue)” (1993)

Manny Farber, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Permanent Collection 


The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has played a major role in celebrating contemporary art in San Diego. Throughout its support of the arts, the library has developed a permanent collection featuring dozens of artists who have exhibited as part of its program. Manny Farber is one such artist, and the collection highlights a piece reminiscent of his dual life as a film critic and visual artist. Farber’s style developed out of the abstract expressionist era, and he typically painted still-life objects from a bird’s eye perspective. These crowded table-tops often mix his love for film with disparate objects and pop artifacts. A kind of self-portrait, the items also reference several of his favorite films. Whether his paintings complement his criticism or vice-versa, one can surmise an interest in painting, writing, and their interplay in the imagery in “Untitled (blue).”