Category Archives: Exhibit

Helen Rae and Artists of Tierra del Sol Bring Their Unique Vision Home to Claremont

Exhibition dates: December 7, 2019 – April 11, 2020
Claremont Museum of Art, 200 W. First St., Claremont

Thirty years ago, a group of visionary artists from Tierra del Sol Foundation opened the doors of the First Street Gallery Art Center in Claremont. Since then, Tierra and its hundreds of trailblazing artists have been in the vanguard, forging professional pathways while advancing the cause of inclusivity in the art world.

The Claremont Museum of Art exhibition Vanguard: Origins of Tierra del Sol Arts in Claremont featuring Helen Rae, co-curated by Rebecca Hamm and Paige Wery, represents 15 artists from the Claremont years whose remarkable creative expressions have influenced and enriched contemporary art in Southern California and beyond. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Sandy Baldonado, Alta Rancho Pet & Bird Hospital, and Susan Guntner.

Vanguard is co-curated by Rebecca Hamm, artist, educator and Director of Arts for Tierra del Sol, working with Tierra since 1990; and Paige Wery, past owner of The Good Luck Gallery (2014-19), publisher of Artillery Magazine (2007-13), and new Director of Tierra del Sol Gallery. Tierra del Sol Progressive Art Studios are now located in Upland and Sunland.

Featured Artist Helen Rae

Featured artist Helen RaeHelen Rae, who is from Claremont, is one of the studio’s founding artists, joining it at the age of 50. Since then, she has become an internationally recognized artist with a prestigious list of accomplishments including national and international exhibitions, numerous publications and reviews, and a place in distinguished private collections.

In a 2015 Gallery Magazine feature on Rae, David Pagel, well-known art critic, educator, and curator, wrote, “Every square inch of her meticulously composed and vigorously colored-in surfaces is unique, distinct, singular. To look at her works is to know that you are in the presence of someone who sees the world anew every split second. That is thrilling. It’s also terrifying. And I, for one, am thankful that Rae has given me a glimpse of the world as she sees it.”

Helen Rae, born in 1938, has been producing art with Tierra del Sol Foundation’s progressive studios for adults with developmental disabilities for the last thirty years. Rae utilizes fashion magazines as a point of departure, elevating the source material to expose a world of momentous, subversive vision.

Composed using colored pencil and graphite, Rae creates dense, profoundly fractured drawings that are instantly recognizable and inescapably alluring. A bold use of color and sophisticated command of design culminates in a torrent of pattern and texture.

Helen Rae has been featured in Vogue and Vulture, among many other publications, and has received solo shows at The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, First Street Gallery, Claremont, and White Columns, New York.

Artists of Tierra del Sol

Anthony Barnes

Anthony BarnesAnthony Barnes has worked as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol since 1990. Barnes works from imagination and from life, forming strong graphic images in his artwork. His energetic style and use of powerful line is recognizable in both two and three-dimensional media. Barnes compositions range from images that knit together eclectic narratives to presentations of entrancing drawings of the banal. He works with a variety of media such as color markers, pencils, watercolor, ink, acrylic and clay to create works that are simultaneously mysterious and a delightfully light-hearted.

Barnes’ work has been exhibition continuously since 1990 and includes shows in Sacramento, Washington D.C., Scotland and Japan. His paintings have twice been selected by the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center for its promotional campaigns.

John Boyer

John BoyerJohn Boyer, born in 1931 worked with the progressive studios of Tierra del Sol during his final years from 1993 through 2005. He grew up in Oregon and, after moving to Southern California as a young man, taught himself to draw.  Boyer showed a mastery of composition and narrative in drawing and painting. He used vivid oil pastels, graphite, and acrylic paint to describe complex architectural landscapes. Interiors and exteriors were exposed simultaneously in rich compositions that center on an array of characters.  Boyer’s characters exhibited similar features yet were distinguishable by unique costumes.  Whether heads-of-state, religious icons, or Hollywood horror movie characters, his attention to detail and bold, colorful style revealed a strong storyline he was happy to share with the interested admirer.

Boyer’s work has been exhibited in many shows at the First Street Gallery, the studios of Tierra del Sol, and many art galleries and venues including the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles, Club Nokia Los Angeles, and The Claremont Graduate University.

Mary Lou Dimsdale

Mary Lou DimsdaleMary Lou Dimsdale has worked as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol Foundation since 2009. Mary Lou Dimsdale is a painter who knows no boundaries when it comes to creating. Pulling inspiration out of anything from her own imagination to everyday scenes, Dimsdale carefully composes each painting with unbridled confidence and familiarity. Her application of paint is patient and remarkably intentional, which is evidenced in the small brush strokes and thoughtful application of line. Initially in representational colors, she now approaches her work with an extraordinary level of interpretive, less expected hues. Playing with line, perspective, scale, and the careful modulation of color and brush stroke, she draws the viewer into her whimsical and playful world.

Michael LeVell

Michael LavellIn 1989, Michael LeVell launched his professional art career when he began working with the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol. LeVell immediately presented a natural ability to draw landscape, furniture and architecture in perfect perspective which is also present in the intricate ceramic sculptures he creates. His devotion to the magazine Architectural Digest appears to inspire LeVell’s creative process. He often references the magazine’s photo spreads in his own compositions which also include color palettes and repeated motifs of his own design. A few of his series have diverted from this by including figurative elements, and another group of works show a mysterious and delightful pattern of ovals interwoven throughout the composition.

LeVell is one of the original eight artists who helped found First Street Gallery and the studio arts programs in 1989. He was honored with a retrospective exhibition in 2014 to celebrate First Street Gallery’s 25th Anniversary. His work has been shown and sold around the world in such locations as Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Japan.  White Columns Gallery, NY, presented a 2018 solo show of LeVell’s with the CONDO Art Fair, presenting LeVell’s elegant paintings and ceramic sculptures which gained critical acclaim including the praise of Jerry Saltz, Pulitzer Prize winning art critic with NYMagazine.  LeVell’s work has also been shown with the NADA Art Fair Miami and Felix Art Fair Los Angeles, courtesy of White Columns Gallery, NY.

Jackie Marsh

Jackie MarshJackie Marsh has worked as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol since 2009. Marsh produces whimsical depictions of animals and flowers in painting, drawing and ceramics. In her two and three dimensional work, gestural mark-making is combined with a vibrant and loosely applied color palette to define her delightfully exuberant style.

In addition to being a studio artist, Marsh also teaches art classes at Upland Art Studios, the Joslyn Senior Center and other venues. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as the Chan Gallery, Pomona College, Claremont, California; California Baptist University, Riverside, California; Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California and Zask Gallery, Palos Verdes, California. When she’s not developing her art career, you can find Marsh at work providing compassionate care to the animals of local animal shelters.

John Maull

John MaullBorn in Los Angeles, California, John Maull has worked as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol since 2005. Maull’s work explores motifs which seem iconic on their surface but are based on idiosyncratic personal histories and experiences. His drawings include layers of floral patterns which border on abstraction through their repetition but also have references to Maull’s childhood home embedded in their imagery. In ceramics, he forms dogs and automobiles based on autobiographical references with colorful dripping and swirling glazes.

Maull has collaborated with internationally renowned artists such as Charles Long and Karen Kimmel and has exhibited his work across the United States.

Dru McKenzie

Dru McKenzieDru McKenzie has worked as an artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol since 1998. McKenzie’s signature style of thick contour lines is used to depict a menagerie of animals, portraits and mundane objects. Her bold stylized imagery and sense of color make strong graphic statements.

McKenzie has been honored with solo exhibitions at First Street Gallery Art Center and at the 24 Hour Gallery in Pasadena, CA. Her work has also been featured in exhibitions at The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Berenberg Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts; Gensler, Santa Monica, California; Bridge Gallery at City Hall, Los Angeles, California; Da Vinci Gallery, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles, California; Art Enables, Washington D.C. and McKenzie was featured in an Artsy article by Doug Harvey, “10 L.A. Artists Whose Work You Probably Don’t Know—but Should”.

John Peterson

John PetersenJohn Peterson has worked as a studio artist at the progressive studios of Tierra del Sol since 2013. Peterson is recognized for his unmistakable steeple-like ceramic towers and head sculptures. Peterson engages with the grid as a mode of abstraction in the least rigid of styles. Geometric forms and mark-making are contrasted by oozing glazes and sensuously rounded corners. He has also been expanding on this repertoire of elegantly odd forms through constant and adventuresome experimentation with surprisingly inventive results.

Peterson’s work has been exhibited at such venues as the Outsider Art Fair – New York, First Street Gallery, Claremont, California; Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California and Hellada Gallery, Long Beach, California.

Helen Rae

Helen RaeBorn in 1938, Rae has worked as a studio artist out of the progressive studios of Tierra del Sol since 1989. Her work, in colored pencil and graphite, is immediately striking for its vivid imagery and resonant use of color. Her drawings exude a strange power and sense of menace. Fierce or frightened-looking women, with distorted figures, often seem to be hiding or escaping in furtive dream-like adventures, emerging out of or disappearing into ornate floral patterns, shrouded in luxuriant foliage, or on the verge of vanishing into abstraction. Using fashion advertisements as a point of departure for otherworldly journeys into the unconscious, Helen holds up a shattered mirror to the source material, breaking down the images into something uniquely expressive.

Rae has had solo shows with The Good Luck Gallery in Los Angeles in 2019 and in 2015 and 2016. She has exhibited at The Outsider Art Fair in New York City and Paris and enjoyed her first solo show in New York City at White Columns in September 2017. Rae’s sudden emergence onto the international scene was named by Brut Force as one of the top six stories of self-taught and outsider art of 2016. One of her drawings has been reproduced by Exhibition A as a limited-edition print. Her work has earned her an Award of Recognition from the Artists Beyond Disabilities Exhibition in Pasadena, California and reviews in the Los Angeles Times, a Gallery Magazine feature by David Pagel, Art in America,, Gallerie Magazine, Art Absolument, Artnet, Artillery Magazine, Disparate Minds and The Creator’s Project (Vice) and critical acclaim by Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Jerry Saltz in NY Magazine.

Jose del Rio

Jose del RioJose del Rio was born January 25, 1921 in Puerto Rico. He attended school in Puerto Rico to the 9th grade. In 1947, when Jose’s mother died, he moved to New York City to live with his sister and in 1980 relocated to California. From 1990, Jose worked at the First Street Gallery and Art Center three days a week. The other two days a week he worked as a gardener.

Jose was a self-taught artist whose colorful artwork reflects his culture, religion and humanitarian nature. Birds, flowers, fountains, the sun are drawn with bright color markers. The inclusion of inspirational words, love, peace, harmony, prosperity, appear in both Spanish and English. All of Jose’s work was made as a gift for someone whose name he inscribed on the composition.

Jose’s sister remarks that Jose had always been fascinated with birds and would spend hours outdoors admiring birds and the landscape. Jose’s work has been exhibited nationally. He was recently awarded an honorable mention for his work at the Ontario Museum of History and Art. One of his linoleum block prints appeared on the cover of the international literary journal, the Santa Monica Review. Jose del Rio died of liver cancer in December of 1992 at the age of 72.

Hugo Rocha

Hugo RochaHugo Rocha has worked as a studio artist out of the progressive studios of the Tierra del Sol Foundation since 2007. Rocha’s recent work reinvents specific scenes he carefully selects from popular telenovela soap opera shows. Rocha’s narratively rich images employ his explosive use of color, expressive reinvention of the figure and intricately balanced compositional shapes which play with the viewer’s sense of depth. Rocha’s also creates perfectly balanced hand drawn typography to list names of popular singers, names of cities and map elements.

Rocha has exhibited his work in solo and group shows including Storytellers, Curated by Andreana Donahue and Tim Ortiz of Disparate Minds, at LAND Gallery, Brooklyn, NY and Summery Appeal, Curated by Doug Harvey, at The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and his recent solo exhibition at Tierra del Sol Gallery, Los Angeles.

Vicente Siso

Vicente SisoVicente Siso has worked as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol since 2012. Siso was born in Spain, grew up in Venezuela and studied in Miami and Trinidad.  He produces work in a variety of media, including painting, drawing and ceramics. In clay, Siso creates whimsical vessels and creatures which are finished with exuberant glaze applications. In painting and drawing, he produces architectural landscapes and portraiture with experimental applications of perspective, patterning and color palette.

Siso has taught ceramics classes at the Joslyn Senior Center in Claremont and volunteered at the Blaisdell Senior Center in Claremont. His work has been exhibited at such venues as The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Lamperouge, Los Angeles, California; Special Olympics World Games, Los Angeles, California; Los Angeles City Hall Bridge Gallery, California; and California Baptist University, Riverside, California.

Isabel Vartanian

Isabel VarnanianIsabel Vartanian works as a studio artist at the progressive art studios of Tierra del Sol Foundation. Vartanian recalls creating artwork from a very young age. The art books she had in her parent’s house there continue to inspire her to produce inventive and stimulating compositions years later. She has grown tremendously as an artist and is expanding the creation of her own, stunning artistic narrative. A gifted observer of the visual realm, Vartanian locates a rich plethora of imagery from her everyday life, stories she loves, her dreams and imagination. She rearranges and intricately weaves the subject matter together using pattern, vivid hues and distorted scale to realize her dynamic, intriguing and full compositions. Working in acrylic, watercolor and colored pencil, Vartanian’s application of medium is consistently bold, heavy and definite, creating wonderfully strong worlds for the viewer to enter and contemplate.

Joe Zaldivar

Joe ZaldivarJoe Zaldivar was born in Rosemead, California and has worked with the progressive art studios of the Tierra del Sol Foundation since 2011. Zaldivar is known for his innovative use of Google Maps. Using his iPad as a reference material, he creates aerial view maps of locations around the world, often autobiographical, as well as street level renditions of the same locations using Google Maps Street View. The resulting works, which combine technology and perspectival architectural drawing in a style reminiscent of cartoon animation, twist time and space both spatially and conceptually.

Zaldivar has completed commissions for collectors and businesses across Southern California and exhibited internationally at such venues as The Good Luck Gallery, Los Angeles; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland; Joshua Tree Art Gallery, Joshua Tree, California and The Storefront for Art & Architecture, New York City and the Biennial of the Image, Chiasso, Switzerland.

Tierra del Sol Foundation

At Tierra del Sol’s Career in the Arts programs, artists demonstrate that creativity and artistic expression are not limited by physical or intellectual challenges. Our Progressive Studios offer individualized opportunities so that all people can develop creatively and be recognized as cultural producers, community leaders and professional artists.

At the Progressive Art Studios of Tierra del Sol, individuals discover career opportunities, advance their skills and craft their own professional career path in the arts. These pathways include a blending of these 3 roles:

  • An exhibiting artist with a strong studio practice of creating artwork, developing a portfolio and resume and exhibiting art locally and internationally
  • An arts educator designing lesson-plans and leading classes and presentations
  • A professional in Arts Management, including curation and exhibition design, and successfully developing and launching art businesses

In the summer of 2018, after almost 30 years in downtown Claremont, Tierra del Sol Foundation’s Career in the Arts programs expanded one of its progressive studios, the First Street Gallery and Claremont Art Center, by relocating nearby to a beautiful building in downtown Upland. Currently 100 artists are working out of Upland Art Studios and Sunland Studio Arts. Both studios present extraordinary shows and art events including open studios, art classes for the public, guest artist collaborations and up to 20 annual art exhibitions both in studio and throughout the region.

Last summer, the new Tierra del Sol Gallery opened in downtown Los Angeles as the First Street Gallery celebrated 30 years with its final exhibition. Already this year, the new Tierra del Sol Gallery, located in China Town, Los Angeles, has presented an exciting program of highly successful shows and is recognized on a global level.

James Strombotne Paints All He Can Imagine

James Strombotne, Self-Portrait, 2017


The Claremont Museum of Art’s exhibition James Strombotne: Imagine will focus on the work of one of the few remaining active Claremont artists from the 1950 and 60s, an era sometimes referred to as Claremont’s “golden age.” Drawings and paintings from the artist’s personal collection reflect the arc of a distinguished career dedicated to making concrete the creative mind’s imaginings.

The exhibition will open on Saturday, September 7 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. during Art Walk and remain on view through December 1, 2019. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Gould Asset Management LLC.

About the Artist

James Strombotne in his studio

James Strombotne studio in Anaheim, September 2018.

As a sophomore at Pomona College in 1953, James Strombotne enrolled in painting, drawing and design classes at Scripps, studying with a renowned faculty including Phil Dike and Jack Zajac.  In the latter’s studios, in Claremont and in Rome, Strombotne spent, as he writes, “the most important years of his life.”

After earning an MFA from Claremont Graduate School (1959), the young artist settled in Claremont and went on to teach at UC Riverside, retiring in 2005 after 45 years. He continues to draw and paint in his Anaheim studio, as dedicated and passionate about his art as ever. Strombotne’s work has been shown in exhibitions nationwide, including the Whitney Annual and Corcoran Biennial, and can be seen in more than 40 museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Learn more about James Strombotne on his website.

About the Exhibition

James Strombotne, The Actress, 2019

The exhibition takes its title, Imagine, from his recently published book of the same name.  Drawn from the artist’s collection, it will reveal the intense curiosity and creative energy of a long-dedicated artist who continues to question, to push himself, and to produce an extraordinary range of work. Strombotne’s subject matter derives from observation of, and response to, the physical world—figures, objects, landscapes that are both recognizable and abstracted in ways unique to him. Ostensibly “empty” space conveys a sense of quiet that can be surprisingly rich, emotionally evocative. His work is drawing-based, in the classical tradition, and his graphic work both stands on its own and also serves as a springboard to painting. The complex interrelationships between Strombotne’s drawings and paintings will be a focus of the exhibition.

As Strombotne writes, “In all of my work, what I am doing is sharing my vision with the viewer. A photograph captures the moment, as do I. However, I “interpret” the moment. I edit, embellish, exaggerate, manipulate, create, invent, celebrate, and so on. My work is continuous invention and imagination. I am an amalgam . . . a colorist, a draftsman, a surrealist, a fabulist, an inventor, a provocateur, a poet, a dramatist.”  


Students StART It Up! at the Claremont Museum of Art

Student art work from grades 4, 5 and 6 at Mountain View, Oakmont, Sumner, Sycamore and Vista del Valle elementary schools will be on display at the Claremont Museum of Art May 3 through May 5. StART It Up!, an overview exhibition planned, curated and installed by Project ARTstART high school students, will include works on paper, collage, sculptures, and paintings. This is the culmination of the Claremont Museum of Art’s signature art education program celebrating its eighth year.

The museum will be open noon to 4:00 p.m. with free admission for this special weekend. On Saturday, May 4 at 5:00 p.m. an open house will celebrate these young artists and their families. Art Walk will follow from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. with refreshments and music. Bring the whole family on Sunday, May 5 for ARTStation with fun art activities led by talented high school ARTstARTers.

Project ARTstART, a Claremont Museum of Art education program under the direction of Rich Deely, trains high school students, working with college mentors, to provide exhibit-based art lessons for elementary school students. The program brings high-quality, art appreciation classes and art marking activities to the Claremont school system to inspire, promote understanding of art and highlight Claremont’s rich artistic history.

During this academic year, six students from The Claremont Colleges and one Citrus Community College student mentored 55 high school ARTstARTers as they planned and presented exhibit-based art lessons to 4th – 6th grade students at all five Title 1 elementary schools. Field trips to the local museums were enhanced by multiple classroom art-making lessons.

In addition, ARTstARTers served BLAST, ACES, and AVID aftercare students at all seven CUSD main elementary campuses each month with art-making workshops. Hundreds more children participated in art activities at community festivals and ARTStation, drop-in workshops on Free Family Day at CMA on the first Sunday of every month, generously sponsored by Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty and Broadview Mortgage.

Project ARTstART is produced solely by the Claremont Museum of Art in partnership with the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) and provides programming for students from eight participating schools: Chaparral, Condit, Mountain View, Oakmont, Sumner, Sycamore, and Vista del Valle elementary schools, along with Claremont High School.

The program is funded by generous donations and by gifts-in-kind from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Claremont Lincoln University; the City of Claremont Community-Based Organization grant (CBO); the Spearman Charitable Foundation; the Claremont Community Foundation; the Claremont Education Foundation Community Partnership Grants (CEF); Kiwanis Club of Claremont Foundation; Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation; the Rotary Club of Claremont; American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA); Pomona College Museum of Art, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College; The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, as well as CMA Board members and many dedicated community donors.

More information on Project ARTstART



May 10 – August 25, 2019
Claremont Museum of Art, 200 W. 1st St, Claremont  

Andrew M. Wenrick, “I wonder…Los Angeles” 2017-18, diptych, maps, watercolor paper, mat board and acrylic.

The Claremont Museum of Art exhibition Displacement Zero presents work by Claremont born, London based conceptual artist Andrew M. Wenrick. Maps of the Los Angeles area and beyond have been reconstructed into unexpected configurations, challenging our perception of place.

The exhibition, on view May 10 through August 25, 2019 at the Museum located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street, is generously sponsored by Sandy Baldonado, Susan Guntner, Catherine McIntosh, and Elaine Turner.

The public is invited to the Art Walk opening reception on Saturday, June 1 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m.

About the Artist

Born in Claremont in 1971, Andrew Wenrick spent his formative years immersed in Claremont’s Village, attending Oakmont Elementary School, Our Lady of Assumption School and Claremont High School. In 1994, he graduated with a BA in Industrial Design from California State University, Humboldt and in 2002 earned an MA in Architecture from the University of Oregon. After practicing architecture in Boston, he moved to Europe to pursue life as a conceptual artist. Wenrick’s resume includes solo exhibitions in London and Switzerland, and numerous group exhibitions. His works  can be found in private collections in no fewer than fifteen countries.

Artist website:

About the Exhibition

In his work, Andrew Wenrick deconstructs geography, in this case the United States, and then reconstructs and restructures fragments into new realities. As he points out, the single most important identifying quality of geography is shape. When familiar boundaries are altered, ambiguity results, a blurring of the relationships that allow us to locate and ground ourselves. The result is deliberate ambiguity and, for the viewer, thought-provoking perceptual shifts.

Since the industrial revolution, and particularly in our age of sophisticated communications technology, the world has come to feel not only smaller but also seamless. Photographs of earth from space reinforce this truth, as the imagined hard outlines around cities, states, and countries become less distinct in our minds. We are global citizens, an abstract concept but one that we can now better visualize, and that, one hopes, will lead us to strive toward collective goals.

In practice, Wenrick’s acrylic and paper constructions involve cutting, layering, and reshaping familiar map images, place names, and symbols into unexpected configurations. Accepted geographical “truths,” both physical and experiential, are questioned as the seen and the unseen are laid out before us, challenging our preconceptions about place and opening our minds to untapped potential.

Andrew M. Wenrick, “Everything in the middle” detail, 2012, Acrylic and maps on wood.

Andrew M. Wenrick, “I did…permissive block”, 2019, maps, acrylic and electrics on painted skateboard deck with map filled light bulb + mixed media.

Andrew M, Wenrick, “I did…diverging clear” detail, 2019, maps and acrylic on painted skateboard deck with map filled light bulbs + mixed media.


May 23, 2019 – What the Butler Saw Arts Magazine: The Poetically Intelligent Design of Andrew Wenrick, by James Scarborough

May 02, 2019 – Claremont Courier: London-based artist back home in Claremont for show

April 22 – What the Butler Saw Arts Magazine: A Conversation with Andrew Wenrick on the Occasion of his Exhibition “Displacement of Zero” at the Claremont Museum of Art

LIVING WITH CLAY: The Julie and David Armstrong Collection

January 18 – April 20, 2019
Claremont Museum of Art
200 W. 1st St, Claremont

Paul Soldner, Sculpture #16, 2000, Salt-fired, stoneware, Julie and David Armstrong Collection. Photo: Eric Stoner

The Claremont Museum of Art is pleased to announce an exhibition that invites us to enter the home of ceramic collectors Julie and David Armstrong. Perhaps best known for having founded the remarkable American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, the Armstrongs’ love of clay is evidenced equally in their extensive private collection.

The exhibition, Living with Clay: The Julie and David Armstrong Collection, curated by Rody N. López, will be on view January 18 through April 20, 2019 at the Claremont Museum of Art, located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by Art Braeger and Janell and Randall Lewis.

The opening reception will be on Saturday, February 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m., and on Art Walk, the first Saturday of every month, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. For more information, visit

About the Collectors

Julie and David Armstrong in the living room of their home in Claremont in 2018. Photo: Eric Stoner

Julie and David Armstrong met while attending Pomona College and eventually settled in Claremont; David also holds an MFA (ceramics) from Claremont Graduate University. Julie is now retired from Foothill Country Day School, where she taught for many years and continues to teach a weekly art history class. David has long been an important member of the Claremont and Pomona business communities, and together, they founded AMOCA. The couple are well known for their philanthropy as well as their enthusiasm for collecting.

Over a period of sixty years, they have amassed a large and eclectic collection of contemporary paintings, decorative arts, and most impressively, ceramic art, for which they have an apparently insatiable passion. Included in the exhibition are original ceramics by such renowned artists as Rudy Autio, Ralph Bacerra, Frank Boyden, Tom Coleman, David Furman, Shoji Hamada, Robin Hopper, Harrison McIntosh, Mata Ortiz, Don Reitz Paul Soldner, Robert Sperry, Peter Voulkos, and Patti Warashina, among many others.

About the Exhibition

Curator Rody N. López is a graduate of Pomona College who served as an Associate Curator at AMOCA for several years and recently completed his MFA at California State University, Fullerton. For the Claremont Museum of Art, López has drawn on the Armstrong Collection section of his recently acclaimed exhibition Living with Clay: California Ceramics Collections at the Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery of CSUF. Staged to simulate the manner in which Julie and David Armstrong display their collection in their home, alongside paintings and furnishings, the exhibition reveals the integration of art in their daily lives while also saluting the collectors’ taste, ideas, and the uniqueness of their vision.  Within the walls of a public museum, thus, we are given a taste of the private environment of two dedicated, knowledgeable, and highly influential collectors.

LIVING WITH CLAY Press Release, Nov 20, 2018

Primal Nature: Animalia by Women in Post-War Claremont

September 21 – January 6, 2019
Claremont Museum of Art
200 W. 1st St, Claremont

Animals, both real and fantastic, occupied an important place in artistic expression in mid- twentieth-century Claremont, appearing in the work of ceramists, painters, enamelists, and sculptors. Primal Nature: Animalia by Women in Post-War Claremont, curated by Susan M. Anderson, focuses on this phenomenon, particularly in the work of women artists who played a vital role in the development of the arts in Claremont.

The exhibition, sponsored by Gould Asset Management LLC, will be on view September 21, 2018 through January 6, 2019 at the Claremont Museum of Art, located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4:00 PM, and during Art Walk, the first Saturday of every month from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by Gould Asset Management LLC.

Gould Asset Management


Mid-century modern art, architecture, and design in Claremont were influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement that developed in 19th-century Great Britain and flourished in the United States through the 1920s. Although the movement was multi-centered in America, the fullest expression of its ideals was to be found in Southern California. Here, with a focus on traditional craftsmanship and a lifestyle that promoted immersion in nature, artists drew sustenance from local flora and fauna, and vernacular design.

In Claremont, the ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement lingered during the Depression era and experienced an extraordinary resurgence in the post-war period. This was due in large part to the influence of Millard Sheets and to the artists, designers, craftspeople, and architects he drew to the growing Claremont art colony beginning in 1932.

In the post-war period, Sheets’s exhibition programs at the Los Angeles County Fair included almost yearly arts and crafts shows, including the regionally important “The Arts of Daily Living” and “The Arts of Western Living.” These helped foster Claremont’s creative community, as did the Millard Sheets Studio on Foothill Boulevard where dozens of artists, craftspeople, and architects worked on landmarks, in Claremont and beyond, such as the Home Savings and Loan buildings with their signature mosaics.

Themes drawn from nature, especially animal forms, were common. Since classical antiquity, artists have assigned meaning to animals real and imagined. At the same time. animals—wild, domesticated and fantastic—often functioned for artists as creative muses or effective design solutions.

Primal Nature explores the significance of this shared theme and the context for its emergence in the work of pivotal figures in Claremont such as Jean Goodwin Ames, Betty Davenport Ford, Barbara Beretich, and Susan Hertel. The exhibition also includes works by Marjorie Burgeson, Dora de Larios, Ingrid Petersen, Hildred Reents, Martha Underwood, Nina de Creeft Ward, and Ellamarie Wooley.

Susan M. Anderson is an independent curator and art historian with a focus on the art of California. She is a former chief curator of Laguna Art Museum. Assisting the guest curator in her research, Scripps College undergraduate Linnea Rosenberg participated in the organization of this exhibition as this year’s Millard Sheets Art Intern.


Jean Ames, Untitled, detail, c.1962, enamel and bronze. Claremont Museum of Art, promised gift from Kathleen Wicker and Lois Langland.

Jean Goodwin Ames’ (1903-1986) preferred medium was enamel, but she was also a painter. Ames, who taught at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School from 1940 to 1962, described her oeuvre as being filled with “enchanted birds and beasts.” Her commitment to enamel contributed to the recognition of the medium as an art form in the years following World War II.

Barbara Beretich’s (1936-2018) ceramic sculptures of cats, which she often finished in bronze, also recall archaic sculpture while being highly polished and stylized. From 1962 to 1965, Beretich attended Claremont Graduate School, receiving an MFA. From 1973 to 1978, she operated Gallery 8 on Harvard Avenue, and, from 1978, Galleria Beretich, located in her home. Both offered important exhibition venues for local and regional artists.

Betty Davenport Ford, Clouded Leopard, c.1976, Stoneware. Collection of the artist.

Archaic animal forms recalling Egyptian, Greek, and Romanesque styles were popular among sculptors. The ceramic anincmal sculpture of Betty Davenport Ford (b.1924) exhibits this historicizing approach. Ford aims to balae the capture of the animal’s essential spirit with sound design. She graduated from Scripps College in 1946 and remained a vital part of the community through her work with the Millard Sheets Studio.

Susan Hertel (1930-1993) mused in a poem that she was “not a person of the people tribe,” suggesting a closer kinship to the animals she often portrayed in her paintings of everyday life. Hertel received her BA from Scripps College in 1952. Working in the Millard Sheets Studio, she subsequently became chief designer and executor of murals throughout Southern California, Texas, and Arkansas, for Home Savings and Loan.

Intersecting at the Edge: Karl Benjamin, Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2018

Karl Benjamin, #8, 1972, oil on canvas.

Intersecting at the Edge: Karl Benjamin, Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt 
July 13 – September 16, 2018

The Claremont Museum of Art presents Intersecting at the Edge, an exhibition that juxtaposes recent works by Los Angeles artists Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt with paintings and sculptures by seminal Claremont artist, Karl Benjamin. Using bold colors and clean edges each artist expresses a distinct sensibility that may allude to the refinement of architectural structure, the mesmerizing dazzle of echoing shapes, or the vastness of atmospheric luminosity. The exhibition is curated by Los Angeles-based artist Dion Johnson and sponsored by Louis Stern Fine Arts.

Intersecting at the Edge: Karl Benjamin, Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt will be on view July 13 through September 16, 2018 at the Claremont Museum of Art, located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

In 1959 Karl Benjamin was featured in the groundbreaking exhibition Four Abstract Classicists at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Art critic Jules Langsner, who wrote for the catalogue, is credited with coining the term “Hard-edge” painting. While New York based abstract painters were making expressive canvases with gestural brushstrokes, stains or drips, California artists like Benjamin were synthesizing geometry and color by painting sharp edges, smooth surfaces and solid hues.

Like the California hard-edge painters, contemporary works by Heather Gwen Martin and Eric Zammitt embrace lyrical forms and chromatic sensations. The spatial explorations in Martin’s oil on linen paintings employ vivid colors and crisp graphic elements to produce lively activity and unexpected situations. Comprised of precisely assembled bands of colored plexiglas, Zammitt’s pristine surfaces shimmer and glow.

About the Artists

A dazzling practitioner of hard-edge painting, Karl Benjamin fills each canvas with meticulously orchestrated color. His intuitive sensitivity to the peculiar union of form and color produces works that defy reason and return the viewer to the purely sensual delight of seeing.

Karl Benjamin (1925 – 2012)
Born in Chicago, Benjamin graduated in 1949 from Southern California’s University of Redlands with a B.A. degree in English literature, history and philosophy. He began his career as a teacher with no intention of becoming an artist. However, his relocation to Claremont, California in 1952, shortly after he began “playing” with paint in 1951, galvanized his sense of his career path. Benjamin was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Visual Arts in both 1983 and 1989. His work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions and is included in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, Israel; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, among others. Louis Stern Fine Arts is the exclusive representative of the estate of Karl Benjamin.

Heather Gwen Martin, Source Code, 2016, oil on linen

Dancing is too polite a term to describe the kinetic energy in Heather Gwen Martin’s oil paintings; it’s more like choreographed turbulence where weightless color formations blossom and flutter in crosswind currents. Her use of dramatic scale shifts amplifies the chromatic choreography and also allows for quiet moments where smaller slender shapes gently tip-toe around the vast swells of flowing space.

Born in 1977 in Saskatchewan, Canada, Martin studied at the University of California, San Diego and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been seen in museum and gallery exhibitions as far afield as Italy, New York, Detroit and Houston. Her work will also be featured in the forthcoming exhibition Chaos and Awe Painting for the 21st Century at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, and traveling to the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA. Martin lives and works in Los Angeles and is represented by L.A. Louver.

Eric Zammitt, Triangular Straight, 2015, Plexiglas

Eric Zammitt’s carefully placed color juxtapositions often produce curvilinear waveform compositions that appear to be the visual equivalent of a tremolo sound with progressively changing notes and volume. His work feels both natural with its radiant glow and digital with its planned structure. His sculptural pieces are towering stacks of horizontal color that fit perfectly together like a cross-section of an architectural prism.

Born in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, Zammitt creates paintings and sculptures in the medium of colored plexiglas. His intricately composed and assembled paintings and sculptures are often associated with light, music, mosaics, energy fields, and concepts of quantum theory. He has shown in the U.S. and internationally, and his work is part of many private and public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, California, and the Gerald E. Buck Collection.

More Information About the Artists

Karl Benjamin on Color Theory video –

Heather Gwen Martin video –

Eric Zammitt video –

About the Exhibition

Curated by Dion Johnson, Intersecting at the Edge reveals the rich interplay between chromatic space and pictorial motion that unites these artists’ works. In Benjamin’s Black and Gray Curves with Purple (1960), a breeze seems to gently animate planes of color; similarly, the shapes and hues in Martin’s Cue (2017) appear airborne like sails and streamers. Benjamin’s #1 (1992) feels like a party where curvy shapes dance to color rather than music, and in Zammitt’s Grey Spectral Nocturne II (2014), the party confetti rhythmically forms colorful trajectories.

About the Museum

The Claremont Museum of Art is located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street in Claremont just steps away from the Metrolink Station. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for CMA members and children under 18. The museum is also open from 6 to 9 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month for the Art Walk.The first Sunday of the every month is Free Family Day with free admission and ARTStation, a place for children to experience art and engage with local culture. High school students in CMA’s Project ARTstART lead visitors in an art activity related to the current exhibition. ARTStation is generously sponsored by Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty and Broadview Mortgage.

Roland Reiss: Unapologetic Flowers and Small Stories

April 6 – July 8, 2018
Claremont Museum of Art
200 W. 1st St., Claremont

The Claremont Museum of Art’s exhibition Roland Reiss: Unapologetic Flowers and Small Stories will focus on the work of acclaimed Los Angeles artist Roland Reiss who devoted much of his teaching career to the Claremont community. On view will be selections from two of Reiss’s best-known bodies of work: the “miniatures,” sculptural tableaux suggesting human dramas in familiar settings (1970s-90s), and recent floral paintings that vastly expand the expressive potential of one of the most conventional subjects in the history of painting.

Roland Reiss, Fleur du Mal II, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 68 x 52 in.

Roland Reiss holds an honored role in Claremont. As Chair of the Claremont Graduate University Art Department from 1971 to 2001, he taught and mentored generations of students in an innovative program that he developed and that set a standard for graduate art education. An artist of international stature and wide acclaim, Reiss has maintained an extraordinarily successful career that has extended for more than 60 years. Long known for his warmth, generosity and professionalism, he has been characteristically helpful in the organization of this exhibition.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition, generously sponsored by Peggy Phelps, Jane Park Wells and Bill Wells, will include a selection of “miniatures” dating from the mid-1970s-90s. Among the artist’s best-known works, these boxed, sculptural tableaux are simultaneously familiar, mysterious, and provocative. Also on view will be a selection of Reiss’s floral paintings drawn from a series begun in 2007 that continues to this day. The decision to focus on flowers, a subject generally undervalued in the history of painting, reflects the artist’s ongoing determination to challenge himself, to push limits, to employ the breadth of his experience in compositions far more complicated than they first appear. Taken together, these examples of two of Reiss’s signature bodies of work convey a sense of the artistic and intellectual breadth of his remarkable career and, in so doing, honor an individual who has contributed profoundly to the development of the arts in Claremont.

Roland Reiss, The Dancing Lessons: Reconciliation, of Yes and No, 1977, mixed media, 14 x 24 x 24 in.

About the Artist

Born in Chicago in 1929, Roland Reiss has been making art continuously since 1956 and teaching for almost that long. After earning BA and MA degrees at UCLA (1952-56), he taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and, in 1971, was named Chair of the Art Department at Claremont Graduate University. At CGU he held the Benezet Chair in the Humanities; in 2010, an endowed chair in art was established in his name.

During his long tenure in Claremont, Reiss taught and mentored generations of students in the innovative, widely acclaimed program he developed, enabling them to enter the art world prepared to launch successful careers. When Reiss won the prestigious College Art Association Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009, the citation noted: “An exceptional teacher can connect with the current generation of students and lead them into the future. It is a rare educator who can do this generation after generation, deeply penetrating the pulse of the times. “Many of his student’s grace Claremont’s art community today.

In light of Reiss’s long commitment to teaching and administration, the extraordinary career he has maintained as an artist seems all the more remarkable. His work has been exhibited internationally, recognized by no fewer than four NEA Visual Arts Fellowships, among many other honors, and is to be found in major museums and private collections in this country and abroad.

Kindred Natures: Aldo Casanova and James Fuller

December 2, 2017 – March 31, 2018
Claremont Museum of Art, 200 W. 1st St, Claremont

This exhibition reintroduces two highly respected and revered local artists, Aldo Casanova and James Fuller. For over 30 years, each artist influenced generations of students while teaching at Scripps College, as well as maintaining active careers as exhibiting artists throughout the country. Sharing an affinity for the beauty of nature, this exhibition will highlight the kindred links between the sculptures of Aldo Casanova and the paintings of James Fuller.

Organized by Steve Comba in collaboration with Casanova and Fuller family members, the exhibition is generously sponsored by Jill Fulton, Joe and Georgette Unis, and Fritz and Mary Weis.

Aldo Casanova

Aldo Casanova, Torso I, 1963. Cast bronze on travertine base. Claremont Museum of Art collection. Gift of the artist in honor of Felice and Teresa Casanova

Aldo Casanova, Torso I, 1963. Cast bronze on travertine base. Claremont Museum of Art collection. Gift of the artist in honor of Felice and Teresa Casanova

Aldo Casanova was born in San Francisco in 1929, the son of Italian immigrant parents. He received both BA and MA degrees from San Francisco State University, and the PhD from Ohio State University. While still completing his doctorate, Aldo was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome, becoming artist in residence at the American Academy for eight full years. The experience remained a point of pride for him.

In 1992, Aldo was elected to the National Academy of Design, and in 1994, designated a fellow of the National Sculpture Society. His work can be found in numerous collections including the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden, UCLA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The National Academy of Design; and Scripps College.

Inspired by nature, Aldo was acutely aware of its splendor and equally of our obligation to protect it. “I comment on the condition of the planet, political and environmentally, though my work,” he once said.  His oeuvre includes both naturalistic portrayals, of animals for example, and abstract organic forms that evoke the generative power of the earth. He also cited Picasso as a source, motivated particularly by the renowned artist’s intent to be “inquisitive, inventive, and productive to no end.”

Aldo was a model of the dedicated artist teacher—one committed equally to his students and his own work. Over the years, he taught at Antioch University, San Francisco State, Temple, SUNY Albany, the renowned Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and, from 1966-1999, Scripps College. To students he communicated his passion for sculpture, once commenting that, “The most wonderful medium in the world is the young person.”

Aldo passed away on September 10, 2014

James (Jim) Fuller

James Fuller, Untitled (from the Zion series), 1998, watercolor on paper. Collection of Steve Comba.

James Fuller, Untitled (from the Zion series), 1998, watercolor on paper. Collection of Steve Comba.

Born in Pierre, South Dakota in 1927, Jim Fuller exemplifies a generation of artists who, in the years following World War II, looked west for inspiration and education. He found California and ultimately Claremont, maturing here as an artist, educator, and enthusiastic advocate for the arts of this community.

He earned his A.A. degree at Chaffey College in 1949, and continued at U.C. Berkeley, where he earned both the B.A. and M.F.A. An accomplished printmaker, sculptor, and painter, he accepted a position at Cal State Los Angeles in 1955, teaching there until 1967.

In 1967, Jim joined the faculty at Scripps College where he would serve for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1996. His wise, always gentle, guidance would influence generations of artists, not only at Scripps and the other undergraduate Claremont colleges, but also at Claremont Graduate University. A devoted teacher, Jim also maintained an active career as an exhibiting artist, with numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the country to his credit. His works are to be found in prominent private and public collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Pasadena Art Museum (Norton Simon); Cal State Chico; U.C. Davis; Scripps College; and the City of Claremont.

Awards and honors span his career, from a Junior Art Council award from LACMA in 1957, to a six-month residency in Brittany under the auspices of the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation in 1993. In 2008, Jim was honored by the Claremont Museum of Art for his many contributions to the arts in Claremont and, specifically, to the founding of the museum.

Jim passed away on November 28, 2017.

Milford Zornes: The Claremont Years

Milford Zornes painting at Claremont Colleges circa 1958. Photo: Collection of Maria (Zornes) Baker.

November 10 – February 25, 2018
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
1500 N. College Ave., Claremont. Exhibition is open Daily 10am-4pm
Garden admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $4 for children and free for CMA and RSABG members.

Milford Zornes: The Claremont Years presents watercolor landscapes from the years the artist lived and worked in Claremont: as a young man in 1930s; 1948-66 when he served as the director of the Padua Hills Art Institute; and his final years 1998-2008. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Curtis Real Estate.

Milford Zornes, Mt San Antonio, 2003 Watercolor. Collection of Richard Martinez.Photo by Gene Sasse.

Milford Zornes, Mt San Antonio, 2003 Watercolor. Collection of Richard Martinez.Photo by Gene Sasse.

Born in the panhandle of Oklahoma, Milford Zornes was known early on as “the kid who could draw.” After moving to California, Zornes attended Pomona College and began his career in watercolor and during the Depression painted a large number of works for the WPA. Locally his most famous work is the mural in the Claremont Post Office produced in the 1930s. He became President of the California Watercolor Society and in 1943 was drafted into the Army/Air Force as a war artist in China, Burma and India until 1945. He became an art professor at Pomona College and then worked for the Air Force in Thule, Greenland where he produced a collection of paintings.

Back in Claremont, he became the Art Director of the Padua Hills Art Institute, where he arranged shows of regional art in the lobby of the Theatre. He had become a leader of the California watercolor movement and mentor to dozens of younger artists.

In 1963 Milford and his wife Pat bought artist Maynard Dixon’s estate in Southern Utah but maintained an apartment at an adobe in Pomona. Through these years he held workshops and led painting trips all over the world. During the 1980s he developed macular degeneration but continued to paint full time even with limited vision. In 1998 the couple moved back to Claremont where he died in 2008 at the age of 100. His work is in countless collections and museums and had a painting selected by Eleanor Roosevelt for the White House.

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