Past Exhibition

Furious Garden: Deena Capparelli, Cj Jilek, and Karen Kitchel

Claremont Museum of Art
200 W. First Street, CA 91711

Take a virtual tour of the exhibition “Furious Garden” narrated with a thoughtful essay by art historian Betty Ann Brown.

The Claremont Museum of Art’s exhibition Furious Garden dynamically juxtaposes new paintings by Deena Capparelli, Karen Kitchel and ceramic sculptures by Cj Jilek, all of whom focus on the extraordinary power and beauty of natural flora.

In this “furious garden,” three contemporary artists re-envision and re-construct the pastoral metaphors with which we’re familiar. Naughty, disobedient, and extravagant, this view of “garden” is active and provocative, intent on cultivating new pathways and relationships between landscape and occupant.

Art critic Betty Ann Brown writes “Capparelli, Jilek and Kitchel have created masterpieces from gardens they imagine. Their works slow us down, encouraging patient encounters, and thereby settling us back into the slow circles of nature.”

The exhibition, which is organized by Rebecca Hamm and the artists, will open at noon on Friday, September 3 with special evening hours on Saturday, September 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. during Art Walk. The exhibition, generously sponsored by Gould Asset Management LLC, will remain on view through November 27, 2021.

The Claremont Museum of Art, located in the historic Claremont Depot at 200 W. First Street, is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information visit

Exhibition organizer Rebecca Hamm leads a panel discussion with Furious Garden artists Deena Capparelli, Cj Jilek, Karen Kitchel as they explore how they re-envision and re-construct the pastoral metaphors with which we’re familiar.

About the Exhibition

Karen Kitchel‘s environmentally resonant works embody a deep and sustained effort to transform and transcend landscape painting as it is commonly understood. Unconventional combinations of image, material, and form conspire to energize and subvert this traditional genre. Her paintings in Furious Garden draw upon her own gardening practice, surviving the 2017 Thomas Fire, and contemplating issues of environmental sustainability.

The physical environment drives the work of Pasadena artist Deena Capparelli. In recent years, her interests in California native plants and garden design have merged with her work as a painter, sculptor and interdisciplinary collaborator. Her recent sabbatical research took her to England, Germany, and the Atlantic Coast of the U.S., studying transatlantic relationships among historical gardens, and 18th century landscape paintings influenced by the “picturesque,” an aesthetic ideal of the time. These activities and influences have fueled what she refers to as her “pseudo-imaginary” landscape paintings.[clear]

Inspired by the sensuality of the natural world, Cj Jilek uses botanical forms, with their openly displayed reproductive elements, as a metaphor for human sexuality. Exaggerated stamens and pistils create a visual language that relates closely to characteristics of the human body.  These biomorphic forms are designed to lead the viewer to a subconscious association between nature and the human instinct of attraction. In the artist’s words, “Through my work I’m questioning ideas of beauty, eroticism, adaptation, acceptance, attraction, and desire.” [clear]

Exhibition organizer Rebecca Hamm is the long-time Director of Arts for the progressive studios of the Tierra del Sol Foundation in Upland. With an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University, Hamm has shown her artwork throughout the region and has taught a wide variety of fine art and design courses at three local universities.

A thoughtful essay by art historian Betty Ann Brown will accompany the exhibition. An accomplished author, art critic and curator, Brown has served on the faculty of California State University, Northridge since 1986.

About the Artists

Watch Deen Capparelli’s online artist talk presented by the Fine Arts Foundation.

Deena Capparelli grew up in Rancho Cucamonga.  While spending childhood summers in Claremont and Padua Hills, she studied sculpture with Betty Davenport Ford.  Determined to pursue art as her life’s calling, she graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a B.F.A. in Sculpture, and, in 1984, she received an M.F.A. in Drawing and Sculpture from Claremont Graduate University.

Now a professor of Drawing and Sculpture at Pasadena City College, Capparelli has exhibited her work widely. Combining her interest in native plants, garden design, and painting and sculpture, she has worked with arts collectives including Moisture, a multi-year project in the Mojave Desert and an interdisciplinary Science and Art Block program at Pasadena City College. Learn more about her work at

Watch Cj Jilek’s online artist talk presented by the Fine Arts Foundation.

A native of Chicago, Cj Jilek’s education includes a B.F.A. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and an M.F.A. from Utah State University in Logan. She studied abroad in Australia and Korea and had a residency in a traditional ceramic factory in Boleslawiec, Poland. Although her career began as a wood-fire artist, her exploration of new sculptural forms led her to mid-range porcelain.

For nearly 20 years Jilek has taught for community studio programs including Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Carbondale Clay Center, The Clay House, and the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA). Currently residing in Southern California, she serves as an adjunct professor of ceramics at Chaffey, Saddleback, and Mt San Antonio Colleges. During summers she travels, leading ceramic workshops around the world. Learn more about her work at

Karen Kitchel received her B.A. in art from Kalamazoo College, 1979, and an M.F.A. in Painting from Claremont Graduate University, 1982. Her work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the U.S., and are to be found in numerous private and public collections, including the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Joslyn Art Museum, the Nicolaysen Art Museum, The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Tucson Museum of Art, the U.S. State Department, the National Museum of Poland, and many others.

Kitchel lives and works in Ventura, California. Her work is represented by Robischon Gallery, Denver; and Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe and New York. Learn more about her work at

A Southern California native, Rebecca Hamm received her B.A. from California Polytechnic University, Pomona and her M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University. She shows her artwork throughout the region and has taught a wide variety of fine art and design courses at three local universities. Her writings on creativity and on inclusivity in the arts have been published internationally, and she was a featured presenter for a TedX program. Hamm is Director of Arts for the Tierra del Sol Foundation and was honored by Senator Carol Liu as “Woman of the Year” 2015, in the 25th senatorial district of California.

Sponsored by

Gould Asset Management