Padua Hills Art Fiesta to Feature Milford Zornes

The Claremont Museum of Art will host the 14th Annual Padua Hills Art Fiesta on Sunday, November 5 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 will feature artist Milford Zornes along with the premiere of a new film Milford Zornes: The Claremont Connection.

  • Sunday, November 5, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Padua Hills Theatre, 4467 Padua Ave., Claremont. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for Claremont Museum of Art members. Children under 18 are free. A free shuttle is available from Padua Park.
  • Twenty five area artists will display and sell their paintings, prints, ceramics, glass, sculpture, textiles and jewelry. Area art organizations will provide art and craft demonstrations and art books will be for sale.
  • This year’s exhibition will feature artist Milford Zornes, a longtime Claremont watercolor painter and the director of the Padua Hills Art Institute in the late 1950s. A new documentary film Milford Zornes: The Claremont Connection will premiere at the Art Fiesta. The 30-minute film will be shown throughout the day.
  • ARTstART students will lead families in creative Art Activities. A Music Stage will feature local performers. Festive foods will be served with traditional Jamaica punch and fresh lemonade.

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.

Go to for information about the museum and current programs.

The Exhibition + Film

The Exhibition

Milford Zornes: The Claremont Years will present watercolor landscapes from the years the artist lived and worked in Claremont: as a young man in 1930s; 1948–66 when he served as the director of the Padua Hills Art Institute; and his final years 1998–2008. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Curtis Real Estate.

Born in the panhandle of Oklahoma, Milford Zornes was known early on as “the kid who could draw.” After moving to California, Zornes attended Pomona College and began his career in watercolor and during the Depression painted a large number of works for the WPA. Locally his most famous work is the mural in the Claremont Post Office produced in the 1930s. He became President of the California Watercolor Society and in 1943 was drafted into the Army/Air Force as a war artist in China, Burma and India until 1945. He became an art professor at Pomona College and then worked for the Air Force in Thule, Greenland where he produced a collection of paintings. Back in Claremont, he became the Art Director of the Padua Hills Art Institute, where he arranged shows of regional art in the lobby of the Theatre. He had become a leader of the California watercolor movement and mentor to dozens of younger artists.

In 1963 Milford and his wife Pat bought artist Maynard Dixon’s estate in Southern Utah but maintained an apartment at an adobe in Pomona. Through these years he held workshops and led painting trips all over the world. During the 1980s he developed macular degeneration but continued to paint full time even with limited vision. In 1998 the couple moved back to Claremont where he died in 2008 at the age of 100. His work is in countless collections and museums and had a painting selected by Eleanor Roosevelt for the White House.

The Film

A new documentary film Milford Zornes: The Claremont Connection will premiere at the Art Fiesta. The 30-minute film will be shown throughout the day.

The iconic master of watercolor landscapes, Milford Zornes N.A., was known for his international scenes. From an early age he wanted to travel and his work is known around the world. However, throughout most of his 100 years of life and a career that spanned the 20th century from the Great Depression into the next, Zornes found inspiration, comfort and support in a little village east of Los Angeles. Claremont California, where he started his professional life studying with Millard Sheets, became an important touchstone for the itinerant artist. The Claremont area was the base from which he would travel and create for decades. Besides his artwork, this new film explores the major events of the artist’s formation, early success as a member of the school California Scene Painting and struggles through different eras with his singular dedication to painting. His story is told by friends and colleagues from the Claremont art colony who knew him best and were the reason he returned to the area again and again.

Milford Zornes: The Claremont Connection is produced by John Coleman, Grace McKay and Art Kirsch, who met and filmed the artist on the occasion of his 97th birthday in 2005. Subsequently they interviewed him many times, capturing Zornes at work in his studio, lecturing at museums and elsewhere. Milford Zornes: The Claremont Connection will also touch on a few of his Claremont friends and contemporaries including fellow artists.