Opening Doors Through ARTstART

Art in Claremont? Is that a joke?

In fact, it's not. Art is here, has been here, and is here to stay.

To those skeptical of an artistic presence in our little city: did you know that Claremont has been known as a breeder of fine arts since World War II? Did you know that Scripps' Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is currently displaying an exhibit of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene from the 1950s-60s? Or have you ever heard of the Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art located in town?

“Claremont is actually known for its artistic creativity. There are lots of galleries and things to see just in our own town. It is unfortunate that people come and say there is no art,” said Rich Deely, founder of ARTstART.

This is where the Claremont Museum of Art's Project ARTstART comes into play. Deely created a program specifically for art appreciation in Claremont.  High school students and college students work together to teach elementary school kids the importance of art culture. The program consists of 6 Claremont College students, 27 Claremont High School students, and over 175 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from Sycamore Elementary School in Claremont.

“The goal is to increase cultural consumerism and to get more people to look at shows, recognize the art around them, and recognize Claremont’s unique arts heritage,” says Deely.

ARTsTART started in early 2010 under the direction of Deely. Although the Claremont Museum of Art closed doors physically in late 2009, it still hosts several programs and activities to keep the arts & culture alive in Claremont.  The board of directors wanted to create a program to engage college, high school, and elementary school students, in order to connect the community to art.

High school students participating in ARTstART need to be trained to teach the elementary school kids about the different themes of art. They visit art venues such as the Williamson Gallery or Pomona College Museum of Art at the Montgomery Center, get advice from their college mentors on lesson plans for the elementary school kids, and even get to visit art studios to meet working artists in the Claremont Area. This year they were able to meet local artists Aldo Casanova, Anne Seltzer, and Jeanne Steffan.

The college mentors and high school students meet three times a month at different locations such as: the City of Claremont Youth Activity Center (YAC), Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Scripps College's Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, and the Claremont University Consortium. During meetings, students write and reflect on past lesson plans, field trips, and give feedback to improve lessons for the elementary school students. Mentor Kimberley Africa PO ’15  notes, “I am very impressed with how high school students know a lot about art. It’s been a really positive experience and I’ve learned so much by meeting artists.”

“I had no idea all this art was here,” said Zoe Jameson PO ’15.

Sophie Galant CMC '15 specifically has been a big help since the beginning of ARTstART. "This year was great because it was a learning year, since it was the first one. I really liked getting out of the Claremont bubble and seeing what else is going on around Claremont. I never thought what is around here. Through ARTstART I get to learn what it's like to live here," Galant said.

Mentors who have worked with ARTstART include Sophie Galant CMC ’15,  Zoe Jameson PO'15, Kimberly Africa PO'15, Maddi Knaub CMC ’15, Sung Mo CMC ’15, Karen Herrera PO ’15, Heather Byrne PO’15, and Sarah Merianos (CGU). Mentors are recruited in the fall and can get applications from Amy Bibbens at CMC's Center for Civic Engagement for next year.