Padua Hills Art Fiesta to Feature Millard Sheets Film


The Claremont Museum of Art will host the 12th Annual Padua Hills Art Fiesta on Sunday, November 1 with an outdoor art show, art and craft demonstrations, music and more. The recently produced film Design for Modern Living will be shown throughout the day and an exhibition will feature paintings by one of California’s most recognized artists, Millard Sheets. More information is available at

Some local residents still recall the popular Padua Hills Art Fiesta held through the 1950s. Since 2011, the Claremont Museum of Art has continued the tradition with area artists showing their work under the shady olive trees of the beautifully restored Padua Hills Theatre.

  • Sunday, November 1, 11am to 4pm at the Padua Hills Theatre, 4467 Padua Ave., Claremont. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for CMA members. Children under 18 are free.
  • Twenty five area artists will display and sell their paintings, prints, ceramics, glass, sculpture, textiles and jewelry. Area art organizations will provide art and craft demonstrations.
  • The new documentary film Design for Modern Living: Millard Sheets and the Claremont Art Community 1935-1975 will be shown at 11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm.
  • A Claremont Museum of Art exhibition, Millard Sheets: Hills and Horses will show how a love of horses inspired the artwork of Padua Hills’ artist Millard Sheets in the 1940–60s.
  • ARTstART students will lead children in creative Art Activities. A Music Stage will feature local performers. Festive foods will be served with traditional Jamaica punch and fresh lemonade.

First held in 1953, the Padua Hills Art Fiesta was organized by local artists to bring art into the community. The studio art movement that flourished here in the 1950s centered on the use of natural materials and traditional sensibilities – watercolor, pottery, woodworking, sculpture in stone, bronze and ceramic, mosaic, textiles as well as painting. Visitors came from miles around to meet the artists and watch “art in action” at the popular festival. Today the tradition continues with a new generation of artists sharing their talents.


The outdoor art show will feature twenty-five area artists showing their work under a grove of shady olive trees. New artwork this year will include paintings by Rebecca Hamm, mixed media by Sumi Foley, ceramics by Gaby Tepper and the AMOCA Ceramic Studio artists, wood turning by David Holzberger, jewelry by Jay Simmons.

And you will find many favorite returning Claremont artists: Paul Brayton, Gina Lawson Egan, Kathryn Herrman, Mike Hill, Aleta Jacobson, Andrée Mahoney, Marciano Martinez, Sherry Marger, Kathleen McCall, Maureen Wheeler, Jerry Owens, Kazumi Kabayashi Svenson, Barry Vantiger, Ahlene Welsh, Jan Wheatcroft and Susan Zenger.


Millard Sheets in his Padua Hills studio in the early 1950s. Photo for Life Magazine from Sheets Family Archive.

Millard Sheets in his Padua Hills studio in the early 1950s. Photo for Life Magazine from Sheets Family Archive.

Design for Modern Living: Millard Sheets and the Claremont Art Community 1935-1975

Two years in the making, the one-hour documentary film Design for Modern Living: Millard Sheets and the Claremont Art Community 1935-1975, produced by Paul Bockhorst in partnership with the Claremont Museum of Art, tells the story of the remarkable artistic community that took root at Scripps College and made Claremont an important center of Mid-20th Century Modern design.

The film provides a vivid and illuminating account of the important art community that emerged in Claremont in the years following World War II under the leadership of Millard Sheets, with profiles of nearly two dozen artists and craftspersons.

In the years following World War II, the community of Claremont in Southern California emerged as an important center for the visual arts, due in large measure to the inspired efforts of the artist and educator Millard Sheets. In Claremont, painters, sculptors, ceramists, enamel and mosaic artists, woodworkers and fiber artists devoted themselves to their creative pursuits with great imagination and energy, creating works that express the spirit of Postwar Modernism in California.

In the film, artists who were active in Claremont in the postwar period share their memories of the time and place. They include Betty Davenport Ford, John Svenson, James Strombotne, Paul Darrow, Harrison McIntosh, Barbara Beretich, and Martha Longenecker. Other artists featured in the documentary include William Manker, Jean and Arthur Ames, Albert Stewart, Henry Lee McFee, Phil Dike, Milford Zornes, James Hueter, Jack Zajac, Karl Benjamin, Roger Kuntz, Rupert Deese, Susan Hertel, and Sam Maloof.

The documentary was produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Paul Bockhorst, in cooperation with the Claremont Museum of Art. A veteran writer, producer, and director, Bockhorst has produced dozens of programs that have appeared on PBS, NBC, ABC, Turner Broadcasting, and the Disney Channel. He recently received an Honorary AIA Award for his documentaries on art and architecture.

Principal funding for Design for Modern Living was provided by The Ahmanson Foundation and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, The Windgate Charitable Foundation, Gerald and Bente Buck, E. Gene Crain, Marguerite and Harrison McIntosh, Tom & Carolyn Sheets Owen-Towle, and the Family of Helen Bockhorst. Additional support was provided by the Historical Collections Council of California, Peter and Gail Ochs, Robert and Nadine Hall, Jim and Perry Jamieson, Beverly Maloof, the Family of Karl Benjamin, and Betty Davenport Ford and Harold Ford.


MILLARD SHEETS: Hills and Horses

Millard Sheets, Detail from Horses at Play, lithograph, c.1985Inspired by a lifelong love of horses and the landscape surrounding his Padua Hills home, artist Millard Sheets depicted a familiar way of life. The exhibition Millard Sheets: Hills and Horses, curated by his son Tony Sheets, will include paintings, drawings and lithographs from the years that he lived in Padua Hills in the 1940s-60s and beyond.

Following the Art Fiesta, the exhibition will be on display at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden through February 28, 2016. The exhibition is sponsored by Claremont Eye Associates, Maria (Zornes) and Hal Baker, Tony and Flower Sheets, and by Tom & Carolyn Sheets Owen-Towle.

Millard came to Claremont in 1930 to develop the fledgling art department at Scripps College and form the Graduate art program. Under his leadership, Claremont became a significant artistic center. Wanting to raise his children in the country, he purchased ten acres in the Padua Hills where so many of his artist friends lived.

As his daughter Carolyn Owen-Towle recalls in her book Damgorgeous, “Millard promptly built an enormous barn to house his thirteen horses. He built a small corral and a large paddock with an eighth mile track around it. In those days he was racing trotters at the County Fair. In 1941, just before the war began to escalate rapidly, Mary and Millard broke ground for their dream home on the hilltop of their property. Millard designed a rammed-earth dwelling with split levels, a fourteen foot flat-roofed ceiling, and floor to ceiling windows in the living room. The house had an intimate, commanding view of the San Gabriel Mountains.”

Throughout a long and prolific career, Millard Sheets was at once a painter, a muralist, an architectural designer, a teacher and art administrator, an entrepreneur, and an inspired cheerleader who tirelessly preached the importance of art in daily life. Handsome and energetic, daring and resourceful, he was a passionate ambassador for the arts.

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