The Claremont Museum of Art Goes Beyond Beauty in Furious Garden

Exhibition Dates: May 1-July 26, 2020
Claremont Museum of Art, 200 W. First St., Claremont

February 27, 2020 – The Claremont Museum of Art exhibition Furious Garden dynamically juxtaposes new paintings by Karen Kitchel and Deena Capparelli, and ceramic sculptures by Cj Jilek, all of whom focus on the extraordinary power and beauty of natural flora.

The exhibition, which is organized by Rebecca Hamm and the artists, will open on Saturday, May 2 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. during Art Walk and remain on view through July 26, 2020. 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

View the Exhibition Furious Garden.

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 has her “pseudo-imaginary” landscape paintings.

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]

About the Artists

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.

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.