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.

The exhibition will open on Saturday, December 7 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. during Art Walk and remain on view through April 11, 2020. The Claremont Museum of Art, located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street, is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.  

Helen Rae works on a fashion-inspired drawing.

Helen Rae works on a fashion-inspired drawing. Photo by Sami Drasin for Galerie Magazine

About the Artist

Helen Rae, September 27, 2019, color pencil and graphite on paper

Helen 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.

About the Exhibition

Helen Rae’s drawings will be featured in the Museum’s main gallery, while the atrium will feature works in various media by Anthony Barnes, John Boyer, Jose Del Rio, Mary Lou Dimsdale, Leon Fuller, Michael LeVell, Jackie Marsh, John Maull, Dru McKenzie, John Peterson, Hugo Rocha, Vicente Siso, Isabel Vartanian and Joe Zaldivar, all of whom work or have worked with the Tierra del Sol studios. 

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. 

About 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 Chinatown, Los Angeles, has presented an exciting program of highly successful shows and is recognized on a global level.