Inside Out: Emerging from Isolation

Exhibition dates: TBA – November 29, 2020
Claremont Museum of Art at the Depot
200 W. 1st St, Claremont

As all our lives are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists have continued their creative work in their homes and studios. Working from inside—physically and psychologically—they have expressed and reflected on their experience through their art. While the Museum presented virtual tours of artists’ studios during this time of isolation, we also invited those who participated to select a work to include in this exhibition, which is generously sponsored by Gould Asset Management LLC.

Participating artists were asked to select and submit one work produced or completed since March 2020, along with a brief statement about it. With no restrictions on medium, size, style or subject, the resulting exhibition offers a richly varied collection of highly individual works of art—paintings, sculpture, quilts, neon; figurative and abstract. At the same time, shared realities of the pandemic emerge. There are strong women, dreams, masks (real, historical, metaphorical); compositions that are hopeful, wistful, provocative, edgy; some depict the solace of nature, others the home. Interestingly, many of the artists work with layers, collage, intersecting and blending parts in a way that seems to echo the simultaneity of varied, even conflicting, feelings and experiences. Their words reflect feelings of frailty and confusion, but also the centering power of making art and the comfort of a virtual community of artists.

Alba Cisneros
Co-Vida, 2020
Ceramic tile, Venetian tile, travertine, Smalti, and custom high fire ceramic pieces

This certainly has been a crazy year so far, being cooped up and unable to visit with friends and family and do so many other things. I have been working in multiple forms – sewing masks, embroidering, creating ceramic logo tiles, fabricating mosaic addresses, building planters for veggie and flower gardens, and building a fence to create space to store “finds” that I can use in future projects, wood, steel frames, French doors, more tile – you get the picture, I love to recycle!

When the idea of the “Inside Out ” show came up, I couldn’t wait to see what other artists had been up to while in quarantine. I headed out to the studio one afternoon and pulled out all the leftover ceramic tiles I’d made for a recent project. How wonderful to create something for the fun of it! No pressure, I haven’t done that in years!

Barry Cisneros
Marcia’s Shore Birds, 2020
Gouache

Born into a family of artists, I have lived most of my life in Claremont. Majoring in European History and Studio Art at Pitzer College, I studied with Carl Hertel, Aldo Casanova, and Karl Benjamin, but did not become a full-time artist until 2010.

I work with acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pencil and charcoal, focusing on landscapes, seascapes, portraits and local history. I prefer to produce my works for others and do so very rarely for myself. My only art philosophy or manifesto is that I dislike manifestos.

Steve Comba
Elegy, 2020
Oil on canvas

I began this painting as an addition to an ongoing series based upon the parable of Icarus. It was developed from a series of photographs I had taken on a visit to Washington D.C. several years ago. The original intent was to challenge myself to create a sky that was both solid and ethereal, and depict an image promoting the idea of separation from the crowd.

Then COVID-19 appeared. The stay-at-home order started for me on Thursday, March 19. On that day I began the final plans for placement of the pigeons, having already begun the process of building the sky in a pointillist manner. After designating the position of each bird, I counted them. Nineteen. Elegy is a mournful poem. What I intended to be a parable of hubris and overreach has instead become one of social distancing and herd mentality. Almost as if it is meant to be.

Gina Lawson Egan
Delightful Diversions, 2020
Oil on stretched canvas

During this quarantine, I began a task to use up all my partial spare bags of clay I have stored here and there in my studio. Delightful Diversions is a sculpture born of this task.  The large figure came first with the additions to the feet, followed by the character behind in a handstand position. There is pandemonium all around her, but she sits thoughtfully, looking downward at her hands, which hold an ambiguous item.

Although these figures are playful and amusing, they also speak about multi-tasking and demands that can plague us with our desire to reach goals. It is not clear if she is truly peaceful as she appears or barely holding it together with the help of her distractions. Another consideration, and a more hopeful interpretation, is that she is able to sit serenely because of the help of her friends and the distractions.

Paul Faulstich
Red-tailed Hawk, 2020
Acrylic and latex on birch panel

Solitude is characteristic of the day-to-day lives of many creatures. During this time of safer-at-home measures, it strikes me that my paintings and photographs often depict solitary animals. Like humans, most animals are social creatures to some degree, so to be found in the solitude they often choose. Most of us are sequestered right now, but with any luck, we’re not entirely alone.

In this time of seclusion, I have come to think of my house as an obscura, a dimmed enclosure from which the world is viewed. At the same time, we are not unlike the thermals on which the red-tailed hawk soars high above, in great sweeps. We have no immutable borders and we exist like the air currents; blending, blending.

Sumi Foley
Venus, 2020
Small pieces of coloured silk as pigment on canvas

The oldest living thing on our planet is the 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine tree. Its stately, tenacious presence reminds us that 5,000 years ago we humans were already making art; and that no matter what, we will continue to do so for the next 5,000 years.

Born in Osaka, Japan, I have been making fabric art for more than 30 years. “I use silk given to me by family, friends and fans of my art. Just like humans, each piece has a story and its own design and color. When light falls on the surface of the fabric, magic happens. Colors vibrate and bounce the light into the air, exciting the imagination and summoning the creativity essential for human life. The human story is more beautiful when, together, we use imagination creatively. I see my art as a small part of the quest for peace in the human family. It will be my footprint after I am gone.”

Cathy Garcia
The Three Amigos, 2020
Ceramic mosaic over miscellaneous objects

I am a self-taught mosaic artist who has been working in this medium for more than 20 years, have exhibited in more than 40 shows, both solo and group, and have created several public art installations. I am also a psychotherapist by profession.

I love color and enjoy combining textures and shapes to bring vibrancy, movement and life to my works. A key component is to reinvent the old and unused into a thing of beauty. A “treasure hunt” for supplies takes me to yard sales, thrift shops and friends’ garages. The mosaic process is similar to building a jigsaw puzzle without a map. The pieces unfold themselves. My current passion is creating human busts and animal figures that seem to have personalities of their own.

Sandy Garcia
Patron Saint of Comfort, 2020
Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

A story reopened my emotions to paint this painting. In early 2020 during a folk painting workshop, a participant, a woman, was in the painting. As I reached down to check on her progress, she said to me, “I took care of you when you were admitted at San Antonio Hospital”. Although I couldn’t remember her, I excused myself from the group to compose myself and a flood of tears and emotions. I share with you, my memory of the hospital from years ago, while recovering from gastric cancer surgery. I had been very sick, did not remember her but was feeling so thankful for her care and that she remembered me after all these years.

She’s still an ICU nurse caring for others. Her name is Jasmine. During the pandemic isolation, I felt impelled to paint “Angel Patron Saint”, a protector watching over Jasmine and all first responders.

Athena Hahn
One of Three Bares, 2020
Mixed Media

During this time in the cave, we have had time to reflect on our ‘bear/bare’ nature. Our relationship to our internal nature and also our relationship to ourselves as part of nature. What is too big, too little, just right? How does that relationship change throughout our lives? This is the first of three paintings musing on that relationship.

I hold a B.A. from Pitzer College, and an M.F.A. from California State University Fullerton. I recently completed a large 32 ft. mural for the children’s section of the Pomona Public Library titled The Sun, The Moon, The Stars . . . and Everything.

Rebecca Hamm
Radical Contemplation, 2020
Acrylic on paper

My work presents where nature overcomes and reclaims– gradually or dramatically—human constructs.

I create energetic, abstracted visions that overflow with color and hidden life. At a distance, the stream emerges and the rock forms within a constant state of flux. The striking beauty of nature is laced with the aching to devastation. is at once mysterious and comforting; fascinating and awe inspiring; terrifying and instructive.

In my paintings, a momentary glimpse into the wild places around us becomes a glimmering composition honoring unsettling beauty and evidence of transformation. Layered hues and shifting images hint at the thin veil of paper and paint while provoking a view into a deeper contemplation. Where my painting process leads is mysterious and unpredictable. These works are not intended to be a representation or a record, yet they shimmer as memorials to the experiential.

Aleta Jacobson
Dreaming of the Forest , 2020
Mixed media on canvas

At the beginning of the year, I reflected on my art, examining my style, themes, and direction. March gave me more time to devote to my artistic journey. I tried things I didn’t think I’d like. I challenged myself to jump into new colors I’d never used before. I also revisited watercolor and explored a watery, transparent, almost-not-there style. I created minimalist collages that really excited me. I made my own materials by staining papers with watercolor and acrylic paints. I needed these experiments and play during these times of isolation.

I’m now teaching via Zoom and I’m working on creating online classes that will be found on my website. I’m holding “open studio” time for a few artists, and am learning many things about teaching online and what students need to keep creating.

Christy Johnson
Scrappy, 2020
Quilt

Forty-five years ago, my life was consumed with the responsibilities of wife, mother, and housekeeper. These activities were mostly fleeting, unremarkable, even routine – not necessarily unimportant or unfulfilling, but not measurable. To balance my life, I became involved in the visual arts, making tangible, concrete objects (ceramics at first, but after retiring, my repertoire includes quilting as well). My creativity generated something that I could point to and say, “This is what I did today.” My art provides an actual accounting of work, effort, and, especially, expression. It is dependent on visual imagination but conveyed through real physical materials—what I can touch, see, and feel.

Paul Kittlaus
Untitled # 231, 2020
Acrylic on cotton canvas

“To be an artist is to believe in life.” Henry Moore was right. Art is a way to push back against the darkness, against the political effort to lock us up in our fear, the COVID-19 fear that hangs death over our heads and locks us in, separate from one another; the racism that separates us by skin color; the economic system that rewards some but not all; the privileges awarded to some but not all.

Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” I seek through my art to spread light against the darkness. This painting, untitled #231, is a landscape of colors seeking harmony.

Jacqueline Knell
Sheltered: Breakfast Room.
The Schmear, 2020
Oil

My offbeat composition depicts a comforting indulgence while sheltering. #morningnews #nolox #ourhouse #lockdown #paintingathome

Jackie Leishman
Yosemite 46, 2020
Printmaking ink, pastel, and collage on paper

The world is collage to me. I’m drawn to what happens at the edges and among the layers, where different materials meet. I want to show the sometimes raw joints, the roughness of their coming together, to be candid about the process of layering, and to leave the hand of the artist apparent. The push-pull between two ideas intrigues me most, the animating tensions between destruction and creation, expansion and contraction, explosion and implosion.

Richard Martinez
Feeding Frenzy, 2020
Watercolor

When I painted this, I was thinking of summertime in Balboa when my kids were young. I used to take them fishing quite a bit in the harbor and when the sun started to set, the birds would dodge around following the fishing boats. As the fish were being cleaned, the birds were looking for a meal. I loved the view and the experience of being there with my children, so I sketched the scene in my mind.

Sylvia Megerdichian
Comfort Zone, 2020
Acrylic and collage

Since 2015 my work has focused on the many-faceted faces of women across cultural and geographic boundaries. My work begins with a question, “Who is that woman?” As women we have our inner faces and outer faces, our private and public personnas.

My painting process begins with layering the paint, adding collage, drawing and making marks on the painting. Color is always with me. The COVID-19 pandemic and requisite face coverings led to my new series, Women and Masks. My studio has always been my safe place. Hence my painting, “Comfort Zone”.

Jerry Owens
Autumn Road Home, 2020
Oil on stretched canvas

Landscapes are challenging. To be considered artistic I believe the process is the element that can set it apart. For me, especially during this pandemic, I’ve concentrated on lifting and layering my oil painting to give it a sense of depth and character. After I thought this painting was finished, I took it a step further by using a thin glaze of rainbow colors from top to bottom to natural light as we see it.

T. Robert Pacini
Stack, 2020
Ceramic

This work represents the concept of stacks. While a Guest Artist in Slovenia, walking along roads in the forest, I came upon stacks of neatly piled sticks and branches. This is done so that those who need wood can stop and pick from the stacks.  Within the social and cultural history of the Slovenian people, the notion that “the whole is greater than the individual parts” is reflected in these stacks.

This experience left me with questions about society and conscious evolution or revolution. To explore this, I have taken the “stack” and turned it on its head, turned it on its side, manipulated it into a new architectural form, seeking to find my own balance of personal conscious evolution and how that might contribute to society.

Damian Ross
Swirling and Whirling Trout, 2020
Ceramics

I wanted to organize my trout into a stream of fish swimming, swirling, and whirling. It refers to COVID-19, as my brain has been swirling, and whirling, as a teacher during this time.  Exhibitions have been postponed, and the future is filled with uncertainty for many artists. I miss interacting with students, colleagues, friends, and family. I’ve been frustrated, confused, and depressed.

Some hatchery trout in the 1990s were infected with something called Whirling Disease, brought here from Europe in the 1930s. Some wild trout and other fish may have been immune, others may have carried it, some were infected and died.  Whirling Disease was a problem for several years, then disappeared. Will it recur? Probably. But, as with COVID-19 let’s hope not.

Steve Rushingwind Ruiz
Burned Out, 2020
Wood

Born in 1959 in Pomona, I am a Native American musician, sculptor and painter. My giant burnt match sculpture represents the loneliness I feel when removed from the places, people and things that have been part of my daily routine. I am now an island unto myself. The stress and uncertainty of life in isolation have left me feeling burned out, used up. All synapses have been exhausted, leaving my mind nothing but a burned and charred membrane. This match represents the current situation, life as we know it.

Anne Seltzer
She Decided, 2020
Acrylic on stretched canvas

I have been painting all my life. My mother was an artist who encouraged me. I have used a variety of mediums and styles, and most recently have returned to an approach that is a favorite indulgence: “storypaintings”. These are always autobiographical and return me to my earliest joy: coloring within the lines. The storylines and drawings are simple, embellished with color.

She Decided was the storypainting that brought me back to work after months of not painting at all. With the pandemic and the isolation, I couldn’t face art: I was tired, discouraged, and afraid. But art is an escape from all for me; even if these feelings appear (and they do), they are not my focus as I carefully color in the lines. I decided to return to the studio to paint in hopes of distracting myself from the reality we are all experiencing.

David Svenson
LIFE, 2020
Glass, neon, and paint

We are so lucky to be artists and to have studios and land to survive on. I feel for many who aren’t so fortunate and who have no outlet. As the COVID-19 months drag on, there has been plenty of time to think about life, as we ponder those friends and dear ones who have sadly walked into the woods.

So, back in the neon studio after a long hiatus, I have taken the opportunity to regain my glass bending skills. LIFE, a favorite cereal and vintage logo growing up, sounded like a good and fitting practice for the here and now. My attitude toward our life and times is challenged by my limited ability to make art. But I keep trying.

Georgette Unis
Horizon Lines #203, 2020
Acrylic on canvas

When the shelter-in-place directive came, I thought it would be for a few weeks, then a month, two, three more and now, no clear reprieve. The isolation is quiet, meditative and reminiscent of my childhood summers in Arizona, when the merciless sun kept us inside, protected by air conditioning, passing time reading and snacking on candy bars.  And then there are the long drives north on Rt. 395, through the Mojave Desert, its horizon lines seemingly endless until we reach our beloved Sierras, rivers, lakes and forests, the inspiration for my paintings and poetry.

Jane Park Wells
Hope/Belief, 2020
Collage and acrylic on wood

This painting is one of a new series entitled Painting for Hope, a continuation of my “Hope” paintings that I first showed at Claremont Graduate University in 2017. That exhibition featured 1,000 folded origami cranes as symbols of hope. During the coronavirus pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, we all need hope more than ever.

In the “Painting for Hope” series, I started with a collage of frontpage articles from recent newspapers, which I use as “dark” background noise.” I then painted a web of whimsical lines over the paper collage and dotted the web here and there with origami crane images, all to symbolize hope in the midst of a pandemic and protests.

Maureen Wheeler
Warrior Woman, 2020
Stained ceramic

Warrior Woman was an experiment in technique. I was inspired, by workshops and many of the artists around me at AMOCA, to try slab construction on a large piece. This particular technique requires tearing the slabs to create a rough edge and creating a heavily textured surface by stamping. Many of the torn pieces were stiff enough that a “frame” was not required, only wadded newspaper. The primary benefit of slabs is that construction is quicker and there appears to be less cracking. Being a Resident Artist at AMOCA allows me to work in my own space. There, I sprayed the piece with stain and had it fired.

Larry White
Anaszi, 2020
Mixed media, sumi ink on Arches cover with stains

I especially enjoy the spontaneity that comes with creating mixed media sculpture and paintings. I’m primarily an intuitive artist. I rarely plan. Usually, it’s just apprehension and anticipation. This is what I prefer. I pursue the immediacy of eventual content. I like to think of it as a retrospective of movement through time.

Carol Wiese
Masked Pain and Plague, 2020
Multimedia acrylic and collage

My mixed media work was made in an attempt to understand our experience during this time. The historical bird-like mask of the Middle Ages was often called The Crow, meant to protect against the 14th-century plague known as the Black Death. This imagery and terminology call up both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, drawing together the two crises now dominating our lives. My hope is that we can unmask our fear and pain and be a better world after our experiences of 2020.