From Bonita Avenue to First Street in the Claremont Village, on the first Saturday of each month, you can find local art galleries making a point of engaging with community members during the Claremont Art Walk. The event is an opportunity for small businesses to sell their work and relay some compelling narratives along the way. It is free to browse the galleries and offers students, residents and artists alike a chance to interact and connect.
October’s Art Walk took place on the first of the month. Many galleries participated, including Crescent Tree Corp, Bunny Gunner, Studio C, Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Square I Gallery, Ahmad Shariff Gallery, Claremont Lewis Museum of Art and the Pomona Valley Art Association. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., all of the participating locations had different artist receptions where artists from the larger Los Angeles Metropolitan Area came to speak about their exhibitions.
The themes the exhibitions covered had a wide range. One such topic was how the sensory experience of the natural world can be represented in art at the Crescent Tree Corp gallery, which featured Alissa Warshaw’s exhibit “In Essence.” Another theme on display at Studio C exhibited the work of Lisa Segal, an artist who explores paper as a means of communicating geometrics and systems in her mixed media pieces. And yet another was the Claremont Chamber of Commerce’s feature of Gregory Rook’s photography, depicting the seemingly mundane collision of nature and suburbia.
Featuring a variety of media, such as glass blown objects, photography, textile art and paintings, a myriad of visual offerings lay within the Art Walk. Despite spanning only a few blocks, there was much to explore.
Studio C owner and Art Walk coordinator Elizabeth Carr is an active member of her community, particularly in igniting Claremont’s creative side. She is a board member of the Claremont Village Marketing Group, the group which organizes Claremont Art Walk. This group consists of small business owners in the Claremont area who aim to creatively market themselves to residents. Carr’s motivations lie in allowing artists to sell and showcase their work in a dynamic setting.
“I had been here for a few years and Art Walk was being run by somebody who no longer had a gallery in town,” Carr said. “They were allowing other events to be planned over it. So, I decided to help out, because you can’t complain unless you’re gonna lend a hand.”
Carr is inspired to create abstract pieces that bring people feelings of inner contentment, which is reflected in her engagement with the coordination of the event. Her dedication to showcasing the more creative side of Claremont is apparent based on her continuous involvement in the planning of Claremont Art Walk.
Another gallery features an exhibit that allows viewers a more intimate glance into the political consciousness of the Pomona Valley and beyond. Located within Bunny Gunner, black and white photographs shot by Julien Lucas aim to depict a visual history that has occurred surrounding Claremont.
The exhibit is titled “Synthesis,” as all of the photographs have been pulled from various eras of Lucas’s development as a photographer. He aspires to capture a wide range of emotion, evidenced by his focus on protests in the local area.
Lucas speaks of the shrinking Black population in Claremont and hopes for viewers of his work to meditate on how the photographs may stand in contrast to their quiet suburban lives. He sees the photographs as a larger “mural” of social issues that act as a reminder of class difference.
“I want people to be immersed in what it feels like to be in the streets, in protest,” Lucas said.
The exhibited photographs were taken in Los Angeles during Black Lives Matter protests as well as the Women’s Marches. Claremont, however, wasn’t featured in these photographs.
“I didn’t see a lot of activity in Claremont,” Lucas said. “There was more protesting happening in the city of Pomona. But there were protests every day in Los Angeles.”
By depicting the civic engagement happening in areas around Claremont, Lucas hopes to challenge the suburban comfort that Claremont represents.
Lucas also spoke to the difficulty of selling photography within places like Claremont. A former small business owner, he used to run a bookstore in the Claremont Village called Mirrored Society that opened in 2015 and closed the following year.
“The narrative in the Inland Empire is that photography doesn’t sell,” Lucas said. “And this has been the narrative for the longest time.”
His business has taken him to the Westside of Los Angeles, where he is able to build a community around documentary photography more successfully than in Claremont. Despite knowing that selling photography in the Pomona Valley may not be as successful, his exhibit in Claremont is both a statement and act of defiance to this norm. His exhibit at Bunny Gunner is open until Oct. 27.
All of the exhibits featured in the Claremont Art Walk are open until the end of October 2022. The Claremont Art Walk occurs the first Saturday of every month, so the next Art Walk may feature some new artists that come in from all over the Inland Empire and beyond. With a variety of perspectives offered at each location, the Claremont Art Walk is a valuable opportunity to understand the history of our surrounding areas. By attending future Art Walks, students can tap into the rich vein of creativity that exists within the Inland Empire and beyond.