Padua Hills Art Fiesta to Feature Ceramist Paul Soldner

(October 7, 2019) – The Claremont Museum of Art will host the 16th Annual Padua Hills Art Fiesta on Sunday, November 3 with an outdoor art show, exhibition and film, craft demonstrations, music and festive foods. Visitors can shop for unique original artwork as they stroll through the beautiful olive groves of the Padua Hills Theatre. The exhibition and film, Paul Soldner: Playing with Fire, will feature one of Claremont’s best-known ceramic artists.

Sunday, November 3, 11am to 4pm at the Padua Hills Theatre, 4467 Padua Ave., Claremont. Admission is $5 for adults. Claremont Museum of Art members, students and children under 18 are free. A free shuttle is available from Padua Park.

  • Thirty area artists will have original artwork for sale. New work this year will include paintings and prints by Laura Barnes, Su Cheatham, Steve Rushingwind and Karen Werner; glass by Marc Gordon; ceramics by Liasbeth Mertins; and mixed media by Patricia Leigh Acuña. And you will find many favorite returning Claremont artists: Paul Brayton, Michael Cheatham, Ellen Dinerman, Gina Lawson Egan, Kirsten Erickson, Paul Faulstich, Sumi Foley, Rebecca Hamm, Kathryn Herrman, Joyce Hesslegrave, Patricia Hinds, David Holtzberger, Aleta Jacobson, Annie Marquis, Kathleen McCall, Jerry Owens, T and Jon Pacini, Damien Ross, Gaby Tepper, Barry Vantiger, David Wade, Ahlene Welsh and Jan Wheatcroft.
  • Area art organizations will provide art and craft demonstrations and art books will be for sale.
  • This year’s exhibition and film Paul Soldner: Playing with Fire, produced by the American Museum of Ceramic Art, will feature one of Claremont’s long-time ceramic artists.
  • Join in Art Activities for kids and families. A Music Stage will feature local performers. Festive foods will be served with traditional Jamaica punch.


The exhibition Paul Soldner: Playing with Fire, produced by the American Museum of Ceramic Art, will feature one of Claremont’s best-known ceramists. An accompanying film will be presented by Claremont Heritage in the theater.

Paul Soldner became the first graduate student to enroll in what is now Otis College of Art and Design in 1954, which was headed by Millard Sheets.  There he worked under the pioneering and highly experimental ceramist Peter Voulkos. In 1956 he came to Claremont to teach at Scripps College and the Claremont Graduate School and participated in the Padua Hills Art Fiesta in 1958.

Soldner continued to teach and curate the Scripps Ceramic Annual exhibition for 37 years. He remained an extremely active artist with 178 solo exhibitions, over 400 invitational exhibitions, and gave over 400 lectures, seminars, demonstrations, and workshops, as well as curating the annual Scripps Ceramics Invitational exhibition.

His openness to the creative accident led him to the “discovery” of American Raku and his innovation of “low-temperature salt fuming.” In the 1960s, while living in Aspen, he co-founded Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. For many years he split his time between Aspen and Claremont. Soldner passed away at his home in Claremont in 2011.

More information is available on the artist’s website at


The Padua Hills Art Fiesta originated in 1953 for local artists to bring art into the community. The studio art movement that flourished here in the 1950s centered on the use of natural materials and traditional sensibilities. Visitors came from miles around to meet the artists and watch “art in action” at the popular festival. In 2011, the Claremont Museum of Art revived this tradition with a new generation of artists sharing their talents.

EARLY YEARS: As Claremont’s art community grew and many artists either worked at the Padua Hills Theater or resided in the Padua Hills artist colony just south of the theater on Via Padova, the theatre became the obvious location to host an annual Art Fiesta.

The First Annual Padua Hills Art Fiesta took place from July 25 to August 2, 1953 and as Padua Hills Theatre founder, Herman Garner proclaimed, “is destined to become one of the outstanding annual events of the art world.” The stature of artists taking part in this initial event immediately propelled the fiesta to a high standard, with participating artists reading like a who’s who of the Claremont art community in the 1950s.

The theater’s arcaded walkways and shady olive groves provided a natural and beautiful backdrop for the art event and was a great success. The art fiestas showcased a variety of artwork including painting, sculpture, prints, pottery, enamels, jewelry, glass, weaving, ironwork, and furniture. Not only were these pieces for sale, but demonstrations were also carried out allowing for an interactive experience for the public and a look into the artist’s creative process.

The initial Art Fiesta in 1953 featured a panel of 32 Claremont artists including Jean and Arthur Ames, Millard Sheets, Albert and Marion Stewart, Phil and Betty Dike, Richard Petterson, Betty Davenport Ford, Hildred Reents, Harrison McIntosh, and William Manker. Other artists featured at the Fiesta throughout the years include Karl Benjamin, Paul Coates, Paul Darrow, Diane Divelbess, Robert Fleck, Carl and Sue Hertel, James Heuter, Anthony Ivins, Sheldon Kaganoff, Roger Kuntz, Sam Maloof, Douglas McClellan, Walter Mix, Lindley Mixon, David Scott, Paul Soldner, James Strombotne, John Svenson, Sylvia Pauloo-Taylor, Ed Traynor, Melvin Wood, Robert E. Wood, Jack Zajac, and Milford Zornes. While these artists all worked in different mediums, the goal of the Padua Hills Art Fiesta was to bring art into the community and showcase art that centered on the use of natural materials and traditional sensibilities.

“Art in Action” was the motto of the first Padua Hills Art Fiesta and the event was a groundbreaking gathering that sought to showcase Claremont’s talented artists and their methods and crafts. The Art Fiesta broke down barriers between the Claremont artists and the public, allowing for interaction, education, and championing of Claremont’s burgeoning art community. 65 years later, the Padua Hills Art Fiesta continues to live up to its original theme, allowing local artists to showcase their craft and share their creations with the Claremont community.

While the original Padua Hills Art Fiesta only lasted 7 years, from 1953 to 1959, the current incarnation of the Fiesta seeks to replicate the educational and entertaining feel of the original events, all the while continuing to practice and showcase the “Art in Action” theme of the original fiestas. The arts movement in Claremont continues to flourish in and the Padua Hills Art Fiesta seeks to showcase a new generation of Claremont artists. By following the principles of the original fiestas, the Padua Hills Art Fiesta will continue to advocate its local artists and keep Claremont truly an art mecca.