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San Diego Library Honors Late James Hubbell With Expansive Exhibition

June 18th, 2024

James Hubbell in his Santa Ysabel studio. Courtesy Ilan-Lael Foundation. Photo by John Durant.

An expansive four-part exhibition of the late James Hubbell’s (MFA Sculpture 1956) work is currently on view at San Diego’s central library and several other branches.

The exhibition takes its name from Hubbell’s 1974 essay “Architecture of Jubilation,” which lays out his basic philosophy under the heading “Architecture must take measure of all that it is to be human. Somehow it must count our galaxy and a smile, equally…”

Exhibition opening, James Hubbell: Architecture of Jubilation. Courtesy the Ilan-Lael Foundation. Photo by Katie Gardner.

Coinciding with World Design Capital San Diego/Tijuana 2024, the exhibition features a significant range of Hubbell’s work including sculptures, drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks, and numerous pieces of ephemera to provide insight into his background.

Central to the exhibition is a look at the 10-acre compound Hubbell and his wife named Ilan-Lael, Hebrew for “a tree that belongs to God.” Initially their home and Hubbell’s studio space, the structures grew over time, becoming a laboratory for communal creativity. Fellow artists, family, friends, and many volunteers took part in building with bricks and boulders, kilning tiles, cutting stained glass, molding cement or bending and welding metal.

A structure in James Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael compound. Photo by John Durant.

Many of Hubbell’s public art and architecture projects in the US and internationally also carry this dedication to communal making and organic, nature-inspired design.

James Hubbell: Architecture of Jubilation is on view through August 4, 2024.

Hubbell passed in May 2024, two months after the opening of the exhibition at San Diego Library, you can read his full obituary from the San Diego Tribune here.

Learn more:

CityScape: San Diego Honors the Late James Hubbell with ‘Architecture of Jubilation’ Exhibit – Times of San Diego

James Hubbell, San Diego’s Iconic Sculptor, Artist, Naturalist and Peace Advocate, dies at 92

Iconic Artist James Hubbell Leaves Behind a Legacy of Art Across San Diego – KPBS


Sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art