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Dsvid McATEE
City Times

Artist Adam Belt’s newest installation at the Athenaeum in La Jolla features the unlikely natural substance of salt as the medium.

The installation is entitled Convergence and explores the ways that salt is shaped by wind and water, as well as the interplay between nature and man-made structures. The installation is presented in the main gallery of the Athenaeum, on Wall Street in La Jolla.

The pieces in the installation vary in presentation, with several blocks of concrete placed apart from each other in the main gallery forming deliberate obstruction to the salt itself, paintings, drawings, and an outdoor piece in front of the portico. Blocks of salt lay cracked on the floor, a square concrete pillar filled with salt stands in the corner, the top of which is hard and split.

For one piece in particular, Belt placed a large pile of salt against the corner of a small concrete block and set an industrial fan to it for a period of a whole day. The result is a beautiful sweeping of salt resembling the coastline along the floor. The texture of the salt and its light reflective quality gives way to an oceanic effect on the floor.

The accompanying paintings mimic this sentiment with large square blocks of white hanging adjacent to the floor sculpture. The relief inset of the painting forms the San Diego coastline, with the Ocean Beach area clearly visible.

According to Kristina Meek, the Public Relations Director for the Athenaeum, Belt was more interested in the effects of wind and water on the objects rather then the objects themselves.

The pieces are curated about six weeks or so by the Art Committee to further develop a relationship between regional artists and the general public, a relationship that they have cultivated over the past fifty years.

The goal of the Athenaeum’s membership in choosing regional artists is to offer people a fresh take on art in a social setting, where a younger group can take advantage of the gallery and library space.

The Athenaeum instituted a new membership category in 2005 called the A-List, which caters more to that younger and hipper set of people who may not know about the Athenaeum.

“It’s important that more people find out about the things we offer. It sounds strange, but for a while it seemed that no one under fifty knew about the Athenaeum,” Meek said in an interview.

The A-List membership includes discounts and free passes to new exhibits and over 150 events per year.

In addition to three gallery spaces and a full library and reading room, the Athenaeum offers frequent concerts, lectures, art classes, and exhibits. The rotation of exhibits in the gallery spaces is sometimes curated as far as two or three years in advance.

Adam Belt’s Convergence installation will be presented at the Athenaeum’s Main Gallery until May 3, and is free to the public to view.

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