Art Fiesta returns after 52 years

Brenna von den Benken
Arts Editor

Music and craft demonstrations filled the grounds of the Padua Hills Theatre last Sunday.

The Claremont Museum of Art recreated the Padua Hills Art Fiesta for the first time in 52 years.

The fiesta was an annual event produced by the Claremont artists from 1953 to 1959.

This year, the outdoor art fair featured 20 invited artists showing their work, art demonstrations, folk music, festival foods and historic displays.

The 20 area artists displayed and sold their work under the shady grove of olive trees.

Paul Brayton, participating artist, presented his very own glass art, which included varying shapes of glass jars with varying designs and patterns on each.

“I wanted to buy all of Brayton’s glass pieces for my mom,” fiesta attendee business major at Cal State Fullerton Elizabeth Ochoa said. “They’re just so intricate and one-of-a-kind.”

Dee Marcellus Cole, another featured area artist, displayed three-dimensional paper mache sculptures that were designed colorfully and almost mythically with acrylic paint.

Imaginary creatures with multiple legs, antenna-like parts, and multiple colors was a regular theme in Cole’s work.

“Many travels to visit folk artists in Mexico, Central and South America have influenced my work. I have observed that the folk artists use material that is at hand,” Cole said.

“The colors and designs are influenced by their colorful environment and pre-Columbian past.”

Cole’s art is also displayed at Armstrong’s Gallery in Pomona.

Art and craft demonstrations by area arts organizations kept spectators attentive and inspired.

Ceramists from the American Museum of Ceramic Art studio in Pomona worked with pot exercises while woodworkers, painters, watercolorers and sculptors did their own identifiable expertise.

Children expressed themselves through individual art exercises provided by the Claremont Museum of Art Family Art program local folk musicians softly rocked the music stage.

Casa de Salsa’s taco bar and Spaggi’s Italian Grill were the main providers of festive food at the fiesta.

“Mexican and Italian are my two favorite types of food; I couldn’t decide which to settle with, so I ordered a little bit of both,” fiesta attendee Matthew Munoz said.

Fresh Jamaican juice and homemade lemonade made the festivity a more tasteful event.

A preview of the exhibition “Claremont Modern: The Fiesta Artists 1953-1959” including historic photos and artworks by the original fiesta artists were displayed in the Padua Hill Theatre dining room.

A separate exhibition featuring historic works by the original fiesta artists was presented in the Ginger Elliot gallery at the Garner House in Memorial Park.

Brenna von den Benken can be reached at

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