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On View: Art and Culture Exhibitions

The Library’s exhibition program allows free access to visual art and cultural exhibitions, while promoting San Diego artists and creative community groups.

Library patrons viewing an exhibition in the Central Library Art Gallery.

Central Library Art Gallery

Julius Shulman: Modern San Diego
September 28 – January 19, 2020 | San Diego Central Library Gallery

Black and white house photograph by Julius Shulman

© J. Paul Getty Trust

Recognized for his work in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, it is not widely known that between 1934 and 2007, architectural photographer Julius Shulman (1910 – 2009) shot over 200 projects in San Diego. His clients were architects, publishers, construction companies, and developers, and included notable San Diego architects Lloyd Ruocco, Sim Bruce Richards, Henry Hester, and Frederick Liebhardt. Shulman’s work, spanning several decades, documented the region’s evolving 20th century architectural landscape and he played an instrumental role in sharing California’s unique post-War modernism with a wide audience. Through a large number of publications and exhibitions, focused largely on his work in Palm Springs and Los Angeles for architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Pierre Koenig, Charles Eames, and Richard Neutra, interest in Shulman’s work continues to this day. However, his images of San Diego have not been widely shared or published. This exhibition will present selected photographs from Julius Shulman’s projects in San Diego, represented in both vintage and contemporary prints, and ephemera that contextualize this historically significant work. Curated by Keith York.
Concurrently, at the La Jolla Historical Society: Julius Shulman: Modern La Jolla

Community Exhibitions

With 35 branch libraries in communities throughout the city, the San Diego Public Library has many great spaces to showcase educational, cultural, intellectual, charitable and recreational exhibits, as well as works by community art groups and individuals.

Carmel Valley

Painting by Fani Hason

Credit: F. Hanson

Paintings by Fani Hason
Oct. 14, 2019 – Nov. 30, 2019
Artist reception on Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 2:30p.m.

Central Library - Popular Library

Blue Heal Logo

Heal with HeART
Nov.15th - Jan. 16, 2020
Reception: Wednesday, November 20, 2019, from 5 pm - 7 pm in the Mary Hollis Conference Center
HEAL-SD (Homeless Empowerment through Art & Leadership) is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides opportunities for creative self-expression and personal growth for individuals experiencing homelessness in San Diego. Art sales give the artists the ability to earn an income through their hard work, as well as helping to confirm their talent, self-worth, and ability to contribute to their community in a meaningful way. Join us for the annual Art Gala on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 from 5pm – 7pm in the Mary Hollis Conference Center to support this vital program.

Central Library - Special Collections

Ex libris bookplate

Bookplates: The Art of Ex Libris
Through 2019
For the first time in more than 30 years, a sampling of the library's 6,000+ bookplates are on display. Bookplates, placed in the front cover of a book to indicate ownership, have been recognized as a minor branch of fine art.

La Jolla/Riford

Landscape painting by J. Sewell

Credit: J. Sewell

Impressions of California Plein Air Artists
Sept. 17, 2019 – Jan. 11, 2020
These images by California artists were created in the open air, capturing the landscape’s natural qualities of light and color. Artists include: Tom Balderas, Brian Blood, Patricia Jasper Clark, Rick Delanty, Debra Joy Groesser, Laurie Kersey, Margaret Larlham, Greg LA Rock, Ned Mueller, Michael Obermeyer, Pauline Roche, Jeff Sewell, Bryan Mark Taylor, Toni Williams, Jeff Yeomans.

Linda Vista

Climate artwork by J. Green, et al.

Credit: J. Green, et al.

The Art of Change
Sept. 30, 2019 – January 6, 2020
Climate-inspired artwork by local children, artists, and community members. This exhibition comes courtesy of the Climate Science Alliance.

Mission Hills-Hillcrest

Josie Rodriguez painting in graphite, ink, and wax

Credit: J. Rodriguez

Impressed with Wax
Nov. 12 – Jan. 28, 2020
An exploration of contemporary encaustic painting. In this series Josie Rodriguez, a Mission Hills artist combines graphite, inks and wax. Beeswax and heat are used at every level of the process creating luminous effects.

Mission Valley

Portrait of elderly man with white beard.

Associated Fine Artists
Nov. 1 - Dec. 30, 2019

The Associated Fine Artists art guild promotes artistic development and encourages social interaction by fostering new friendships within the visual arts community. Artworks comprise a broad range of styles and media including; oils, pastels, watercolors, colored pencils, Chinese Brush, collages, and photography.

Pacific Beach

Whimsical painting of a dog.

Credit: S. Webb

Art for the Common Dog
Nov. 16 - Jan. 24, 2020
Steve Webb paints in a contemporary expressionist style, showcasing both residential landscapes and whimsical views from a dog’s perspective. 

Point Loma/Hervey

Glass, sculpture and photography by Cathy Coverley

Credit: C. Coverley

Exploring Glass XLV
Sept. 5 - Nov. 30, 2019
Reception: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, from 2pm – 4 pm
Glass, sculpture and photography by Cathy Coverley. The exhibit features glass plates that illustrate the elements of earth, air, fire and water as they appear in nature.

Rancho Bernardo

Artworks by Doris Bertch and Lois Goodman

Credit: P. Patapow, N. Hines

Things We Love
Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 2019
An exhibit of favorite landscapes, seascapes, pets and people by local artists, Doris Bertch and Lois Goodman.

San Carlos

Illustration of Chewbacca and two Stormtroopers

Credit: T. Naughton

Works by Terry Naughton
Nov. 4 – Dec. 28, 2019
This award-winning independent illustrator and former Disney Studios animator returns to share his works.

Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa

Apple watercolor painting by S. Bruce

Color Pencil Society
Nov. 5 - Dec. 30, 2019
Reception: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 from 2pm - 4pm

The Colored Pencil Society of America, Inc. (CPSA), is a nonprofit (501 c 3) organization founded in 1990 to promote the stature and awareness of colored pencil art as a viable art form to all professional art establishments and to the general public, and to provide a forum for education, communication, and recognition of colored pencil artists.

University Community

Painting of ostrich.

Magic of Pastels
Nov. 9 – Jan. 27, 2020
Created by local students of the San Diego Community College District Older Adult Program, pieces vary from still life to wildlife and anything in between. Artworks showcase students abilities incorporating line, color, shape, and form.

Exhibition Opportunities

SDPL is pleased to have hosted exhibitions and displays by groups such as West Coast Drawing, San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies Program, the Museum of Photographic Arts’ Education Department, the Pastel Society of San Diego, High Tech High, Veterans Art Project, San Diego Watercolor Society, the Art Glass Association of Southern California, Words Alive, and various individuals artists and craftsmen.
Exhibit Space is made available on equitable basis regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. The Library endeavors to present a broad spectrum of opinion and viewpoints. The Library does not accept responsibility for ensuring that all points of view are represented in any single exhibit.
To initiate use of Exhibit Space; Library staff must receive a completed online application from the party requesting the exhibit.

Online Application to Exhibit

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you choose what to exhibit in the library?
All potential use of Exhibit Space shall be evaluated by criteria, which may include, but are not limited to:
  • Public Safety: The exhibit must not pose hazards or threats to public safety or public health and/or must not pose a potential liability for the City of San Diego in any other way.
  • Availability of Resources: The availability of Exhibit Space and necessary Library staff support. Preference will be given to exhibits that do not require an excessive outlay of City of San Diego resources.
  • Excellence: The level of exhibit quality and conceptual content.
  • Security: The nature of the proposed security measures for the exhibit.
  • Relationship to Exhibit Space: The scale and nature of the exhibit in connection with environmental, physical, and/or functional contexts, both existing and planned.
  • Content Considerations:  Exhibit content should be appropriate in material, form and content for the library environment.  In general, the Library does not accept exhibits of a purely commercial nature, unless they have a special educational, informational, or cultural value to the community. Materials advocating a particular vote on a candidate or ballot proposition may not be exhibited.
  • Associated Programming: Exhibitors are encouraged to participate in a lecture or demonstration during the show. Evaluation will consider willingness to prepare creative associated programming. Associated programming will be arranged in consultation with the Branch Manager.
  • Priority: Organizations and individuals based in San Diego or serving primarily San Diego residents, which have not used Exhibit Space within the past year, will be given priority.
How can I exhibit at the Central Library?
Programming for the gallery at Central Library is curated and we are not accepting unsolicited applications. There are limited opportunities to display in cases throughout the library, in the Teen Center, or in the Popular Library on the ground floor. Please contact us with a letter of interest to determine if these spaces are appropriate for your needs.

Photo Gallery

  • First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, installation view; On tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC and co-hosted with The Old Globe.
  • The Art of Comic-Con, installation view, Central Library; A collaboration with Comic-Con International.
  • Intersecting lines: The Tenth Invitational Drawing Show, installation view of Underneath by May-ling Martinez.
  • Rainmaker, installation view.
  • Installation view of Art Forms in Nature at the Rancho Peñasquitos Branch Library Art Forms in Nature, installation view, Rancho Peñasquitos Branch Library; Nature photography by Michael Ready in conjunction with Cabrillo National Monument.
  • Installation view of METALOCI at the Mission Valley Branch Library METALOCI: Points of Transformation, installation view, Mission Valley Branch Library; Exhibition conceived and organized by the Mesa College Museum Studies Program.

Contact Us

For more information about library exhibitions, email us at [email protected].

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