Lux merger with San Diego Art Institute creates broader forum


Lux Art Institute in Encinitas is merging with the San Diego Art Institute this September to create The Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego. (Lux Art Institute photo)

Anneliese Esparza

Lux Art Institute will merge with the San Diego Art Institute this September to become The Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego.

Lux Art Institute, located in Encinitas and founded in 1998, emphasizes showing visitors the creative process behind making art, a goal which it accomplishes through having artists-in-residence throughout the year. San Diego Art Institute was founded in 1941 and is Balboa Park’s only contemporary art museum.

Together, the two campuses will give the new ICA San Diego over 15,000 square feet of indoor space for art galleries, classes, workshops and artist residencies.

ICA San Diego’s executive director will be Andrew Utt, who is currently Lux Art Institute’s executive director.

The merger was supported by a grant from the Sahm Family Foundation. The Sahm Family Foundation has a history with the San Diego art scene, as the late Ramona Sahm donated $1 million in seed money for Lux Art Institute’s founding.

Lux Art Institute’s associate curator, Guusje Sanders, said she is excited for the merger and for what the two institutions can accomplish together.

“Lux’s mission has very much been about making art more accessible and more personally meaningful, with our (artist) residency program, with our education program, making sure that our community gets to see the artistic process from start to finish and be a part of that artistic process,” she said.

“Really what ICA is going to be about, and our mission, is … continuing that accessibility conversation, but also celebrate pushing the boundaries, that there is no limit to art and innovation and the excitement that different art can bring,” said Sanders, who described ICA San Diego’s mission as a combination of Lux Art Institute’s and SDAI’s missions.

“Ultimately, (ICA San Diego will) just continue to celebrate the amazing artists that we have here in the region and internationally, and to question everything,” Sanders added.

Lux Art Institute’s campus will be known as ICA North, while the Balboa Park location will be ICA Central. Sanders said that when Lux Art Institute becomes ICA North, it will continue many of the same programs while also adding more.

“While we will continue to have our artist-in-residence program, and people will still be able to come visit our space … we’re just hoping to create more programming, more connections between ICA Central and ICA North,” Sanders said. “It’s just really exciting and I think it’s going to be really amazing.”

ICA San Diego’s first exhibition will be from Gabriel Rico, a Mexican artist whose work explores the relationship between humans and the environment. The exhibit will be Rico’s first solo show in California and will run from Sept. 24 to Jan. 23.

“Art acts like a bridge and is a language all of us can understand,” Rico said in a statement. “I am excited and very honored to present at the ICA, a new pluralistic space for dialogue and to explore our humanity together — not our Americanity or Mexicanity, our humanity.”
Both of ICA San Diego’s locations will be free and open to the public. To find links to ICA San Diego’s social media channels or to sign up for their newsletter, visit its website

Anneliese Esparza is a North County freelance writer.

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