Our History

Photo by Chris Henry

The Ilan-Lael Foundation was founded by James and Anne Hubbell in 1982 and sponsored public art projects, lectures, seminars and exhibitions in San Diego and Tijuana.  The Foundation always collaborated with friends to accomplish things.   Some of the programs we helped found include ArtWalk San Diego, KidzArt, and an award winning newsletter about San Diego’s downtown developme called Hidden Leaves.

Ilan-Lael translates from Hebrew to “a tree that unites the physical and the spiritual”, integrating art, nature and community in a dynamic setting.  The name Ilan-Lael was first given by artist James Hubbell and his wife Anne to the structures they designed and built as both home and studios over the past 60 years on 40 acres near Santa Ysabel, California. The property received an historic designation in 2008. Today Ilan-Lael also serves as the home of the Ilan-Lael Foundation: an art education and nature center, a retreat space, and a place for all those seeking inspiration in beauty, art and natural surroundings.

Hubbell started building the first of eleven organically-inspired structures in 1958. The intent was to create a home that appeared to grow out the landscape using the natural shape and materials of the land. The first few structures were built with no bulldozers, all footings were hand-dug and wildflowers were kept and appreciated for their beauty. The architectural styles of the buildings are influenced by the adobe structures of New Mexico, where Hubbell lived for a time as a boy. Each building incorporates intricate details including mosaic murals, soaring arches, stained glass windows and a balance of natural materials from seashells to gemstones.

Our mission is to inspire people of all ages to discover and celebrate their creativity.  We offer Ilan-Lael for public use to allow people the opportunity to explore the world through engagement with the arts and environment.  We do this by preserving and perpetuating the vision and artistic legacy of James and Anne Hubbell, sharing their inspiring and unique home with the public, and acting as a catalyst for people of all ages and cultures to realize the gifts of art and nature, and to participate in building a more humane, sustainable and beautiful community.