Claremont has been a lively arts community since the early 1930’s, mainly due to the influence that a young visionary, Millard Sheets, brought to the fledgling art department at Scripps College in 1932 when he was 25 years old. Inextricably linked were the artists, craftspeople and architects that Sheets retained to teach, many who later made Claremont home, thereby influencing generations of artists and makers into the future.
In 1935, Sheets brought William Manker, a successful potter, to set up a ceramics department at Scripps. In 1939, Albert Stewart, a prominent sculptor from New York, joined the faculty. In 1940, Jean Goodwin Ames, an accomplished muralist, began teaching design. In 1943, Sheets added Henry Lee McFee in painting and, in 1948, Richard Petterson in ceramics. Sheets also set up a program in weaving, first taught by Mary Easton Gleason, then by Marion Stewart.
In 1950, Phil Dike, another leading Southern California Regionalist painter, joined the faculty in painting. Claremont also attracted other regionalist painters, such as Milford Zornes, Rex Brandt and Phil Paradise, often as visiting artists. Other artists who called Claremont home, many arriving after WWII on the G.I. Bill included: Karl Benjamin, Paul Coates, Paul Darrow, Rupert Deese, James Fuller, James Hueter, Roger Kuntz, Doug McClellan, Harrison McIntosh, David Scott, Paul Soldner, John Svenson, Robert E. Wood and many more.
Claremont became a veritable hotbed of modern art and as Karl Benjamin would later say, “. . . the epicenter of the art world in Southern California in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Resource: Claremont Heritage