East County foundation features Hubbell’s cross-border inspiration

The Ilan-Lael Foundation, committed to preserving the artistic legacy of James Hubbel is participating in World Design Capital 2024, highlighting San Diego-Tijuana as a hub for innovative and sustainable design solutions.

Hubbell, globally known with a career spanning over 70 years, is at the heart of this exhibition. Known for his profound connection with nature, his portfolio includes sculpture, painting, stained glass, and architectural design. Over the years, Hubbell has worked closely with communities in Southern California, Tijuana, and Baja California, which seamlessly aligns with the World Design Capital 2024’s focus on the San Diego-Tijuana region.

His “Architecture of Jubilation: The Art and Vision of James Hubbell” exhibition invites individuals to create a world where art seamlessly integrates into everyday life, reflecting his belief in the transformative power of aesthetics and philosophy.

The exhibition at the San Diego Central Library will focus on Hubbell’s architecture inspired by and built throughout San Diego County and Baja California, along with select artworks that span his career.

Hubbell, along with his wife Anne, founded the Ilan-Lael Foundation in 1982, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving his artistic legacy. The Ilan-Lael Foundation’s mission is to inspire creativity, foster a deep connection with nature, and provide a sanctuary where art and nature harmoniously coexist. Through educational programs, exhibitions, and community initiatives, the Ilan-Lael Foundation strives to ignite a creative spark within individuals and cultivate a greater appreciation for the transformative power of art. With a commitment to preserving the architectural treasures of Ilan-Lael, the foundation ensures that future generations can experience the beauty and inspiration that this retreat offers.

Hubble and his wife retired in 2021, and now live at Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista. The legacy of Hubbell will be held at the San Diego Central Library from March 9 to Aug. 4. Come to understand Hubbell’s vision in the “Architecture of Jubilation” and his call to create a world we want to live in, and discover the symbiotic relationship between art, nature, and community.

Marianne Gerdes, executive director the Ilan -Lael Foundation said Hubbell spent about
30 years working on projects in Tijuana, Tecate as part of the Foundation.

“When we heard about World Design Capital, we thought it would make a great opportunity for us to share the story of James’s work he has done for decades,” she said. “It really shines a spotlight on the relationship of our two cities. We are very excited. It is the only the second time with exhibitions at the Central Library that they have focused on a single artist. That is a very special honor that we are getting, and we are working on a tremendous exhibition that will feature photography, artwork, and stories that help people understand who James is, what inspires him, art and community, and the breadth of the amount of work James has available for the public to see throughout San Diego County and into Baja California, as well as a focus on Ilan-Lael, which is his home is in Julian.”

Gerdes said the Foundation just celebrated its 40th anniversary last year as it continues in Hubbell’s footsteps and working on uniting people through nature and art, helping them see how valuable they are in their lives.

Gerdes said in addition to the Central Library, there will be companion exhibitions being held at Scripps Ranch, Mission Valley, and the Otay-Nester San Diego County branch libraries.

“Those will have additional information about James, particularly the Ilan-Lael Foundation’s work within the community,” she said. “So, there are four different locations where people can interact with our story and our message in 2024.”

Gerdes said the Foundation is open every year for spring tours, this year starting in May and running through the end of June.

“It is an opportunity for people to come up and see James’ home, his workshop, his studios and the beautiful Ilan-Lael property which has 14 hand-built significant uniquely designed buildings built by James, each one with a significant purpose on the property,” she said. “It is on 10 acres on top of a mountaintop in Julian, which is extremely beautiful, peaceful, and serene. The tours are docent led and take people throughout the property and the buildings to learn the story of the Hubbell life there. How they came to that property, raised a family, started his Hubbell studios, and eventually turned all of it to the Foundation, and now we are the caretakers of that property.”

Gerdes said the Foundation holds workshops where people can learn art skills in its beautiful setting and art studios, and that the schedule will be announced in the couple of weeks.

She said at its website, there is a Hubbell gallery where people can look at, and purchase his work, along with its bookstore.

Gerdes said though retired, Hubbell is still creating art.

“James is more than just an artist,” she said. “He is also poet. He has written beautifully about many different things, so we have many books about James and by James. James is 92 years old, so he has been an artist in San Diego for a very long time. There are many places that you can see his work for free in the community.”

For more information about Ilan-Lael and the Ilan-Lael Foundation, visit their website at www.ilanlaelfoundation.org.