The Colony at Loft 204: Southern California Artists Gather in Claremont

“It’s definitely inspired by Kafka and German
expressionism,” Elise Caloca said, pointing to the brightly-colored gumball
machine that held hatched butterflies instead of gumballs. “It’s my
favorite of her paintings.”

The painting is part of her sister Mallory Ann’s exhibit, which is proudly
displayed on the walls of The Colony at Loft 204 in the Claremont Village. An
artist herself, Elise spoke with admiration about her sister’s talent.

The
expressionist style, known for its contrasting colors and abstract themes, runs throughout Mallory Ann’s work. The butterflies stem from a famous novella
by Czech author Franz Kafka, “The Metamorphosis,” in which a man wakes up and
realizes he has transformed into a giant insect-like creature. Eerily
beautiful, the painting captures the strangeness of an unfamiliar environment
while still remaining aesthetically pleasing. 

It’s no
surprise that Mallory Ann’s work contains academic themes. A recent graduate of
California Polytechnic University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she is highly
versed in various art forms and seeks to incorporate them into nuanced works of
art.

“She
sits for hours on end and creates,” said Elise, gesturing to another favorite,
an abstract green-and-pink view of a garden. “I don’t know how she does it. I
have so much respect for her process.”

Mallory
Ann’s art is part of a large, Claremont-wide event called the Art Walk. The
first Friday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m., hundreds of residents stroll through
the various galleries in Claremont and scope out local talent, from painters to
jazz musicians to professional knitters.

“I loved the subject matter of her paintings,” said Valerie Taylor PO ’18, a potential English major. “I remember reading some of Kafka’s work in class and feeling really inspired. It was great to see those ideas translated into art.” 

The
Colony at Loft 204 rents out its walls to talented artists in the Southern
California area. This month, Mallory Ann was featured along with artists Mary
Blandino and Fernando Sanchez. Sanchez dubs his graphic creations and prints
“Nando’s Art” and has a nuanced approach to exposing local residents to art—including humorous t-shirts featuring his prints.

Other
works on The Colony’s walls included beautiful watercolors of shorelines and paint-and-metal
designs.

Mallory Ann
is a highly motivated artist in her use of acrylic, watercolor, ink and gouache to
create “abstracted gestural forms” and “micro worlds” on clay
boards. Along with expressionism, she is deeply inspired by analytic cubism, an
earlier form of cubism that is most recognized for its blurred geometric
patterns and dark colors.

She also
creates abstract wall sculptures out of latex caulk and polyurethane. But
whether a painting or a sculpture, her work always conveys multi-dimensional
emotions.

Owner Jenelle Rensch—also a graphic
designer, photographer and writer—selects all the pieces that go into the
gallery. She works alongside Zacahry Pfahler, an art historian and lecturer who
lives in Claremont, and Vicki Rensch, who serves as store manager.          

“There’s
a retro aspect to Mallory Ann’s work,” Rensch said. “It’s nice to have
abstract art here. We have so many talents presented here, and it’s great to be
exposed to different techniques.”

“[Jenelle] takes a look at what her theme for the month is, and
then decides on the paintings. I love all the paintings in this set,” she added. 

Mallory
Ann’s work hit an emotional chord with other artists who stopped by to see it.
Curt Phillips, a musician, artist and pastor from Claremont, was awestruck by
her work. He also had a painting featured in the Art Walk, and candidly
discussed his own artistic process.

“I found
this giant canvas at a thrift store and just went crazy with the colors,” he
mused, pointing to the large painting on the walls that resembled an Amazonian
tropical forest. “It was a lot of fun to do.”

The Packing
House, which is home to The Colony and several other venues, hosted a variety of
entertainment during the Art Walk—aerial trapeze demonstrations, nitrogen-dried
ice cream, jewelry, books and textiles.

The
Claremont community is a place for aspiring artists of all kinds to display their
work, and Rensch is particularly pleased that the arts continue to
thrive in Southern California.  

“We’re glad that The Colony has been getting so many visitors, and we hope it contributes to the vitality of arts in the Los Angeles area,” she said.   

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