Raul Guerrero’s mural, Raymond Chandler at the Whaling Bar, is emblematic of a time and place in La Jolla’s rich history. Inspired by Raymond Chandler’s final novel Playback, Guerrero whimsically depicts La Valencia Hotel’s iconic Whaling Bar. On display just a half a block from the famous hotel, it’s a fitting homage to the author and the era. Playback was set in the La Jolla under the fictional guise of the small seaside town called Esmerelda as can be seen in the trail of smoke drifting from Chandler’s pipe. Bold and painterly, the artist explores the moody atmosphere of the bar and the bar goers suggestive of the tantalizing narrative that is about to unfold. Beginning in 1999, Guerrero began a series of paintings about notable bars where artists were known to repose with the muses who communed with them. This ongoing theme in his prior work was a fated fit for his mural.

About the artist

Growing up in National City in such close proximity to Mexico, Guerrero was highly influenced by his early experience with cultural and ethnic plurality. Somewhere between indigenous Mexican crafts and the emerging local subcultures of Southern California, Guerrero is inspired by a number of different forms of artistic expression. Through investigating the regional environment, he conceptualizes his position as a Mexican-American artist through a range of media including film, sculpture, installation, and photography. More recently, he has incorporated painterly practices into his work as a series-based exploration of diverse ethnographic and historical mythologies.

Guerrero received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He then went on to study architecture and urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has participated in many shows locally, nationally, and internationally including solo shows at the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. He currently lives and works in San Diego, California.

Murals of La Jolla was founded by the La Jolla Community Foundation and is now a project of the Athenaeum. The goal of the mural project is to enhance the civic character of the community by commissioning public art projects on private property throughout La Jolla. The Murals of La Jolla Art Advisory Committee is composed of the heads of the major visual arts organizations who commission artists to propose the intervention of an image on specific walls on privately owned buildings. The first two artworks, by Roy McMakin and Kim MacConnel, were painted directly on their sites. Subsequent artworks have been printed on vinyl and installed on billboard-like structures, with the exception of Heather Gwen Martin’s mural, which is painted on its site. Each work is on view for a minimum of two years and has been generously funded by private donations.

Murals of La Jolla, a project of the Athenaeum, demonstrates that commissioning artists to create works for public spaces brings energy and vitality to a community.

Murals of La Jolla committee members include: Matt Browar, Committee Chair, art collector, and CEO of Browar Management Corporation; Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection at the University of California, San Diego; Derrick Cartwright, Associate Professor and Director of University Galleries, University of San Diego; Lynda Forsha, Project Curator and Principal of Art Advisory Services; Kathryn Kanjo, David C. Copley Director and CEO of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Patsy Marino, Community leader and Art collector; Erika Torri, Joan & Irwin Jacobs Executive Director of La Jolla Athenaeum.

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, located in the heart of La Jolla, in San Diego County, is one of only 16 nonprofit membership libraries in the United States. This rare cultural institution offers a depth and accessibility of resources and programs found nowhere else in the region including one of the most significant collections of artists’ books in Southern California. The Athenaeum also presents a year-round schedule of art exhibitions, concerts (classical, jazz, acoustic and new music), lectures, studio art classes through its School of the Arts, tours and special events.


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