Claremont Hillside Fine Art’s Anniversary!
Claremont’s Hillside Fine Art celebrates their gallery’s anniversary this summer. ‘Who knew work could be so fun!” exclaimed Steve Harrison, owner of Hillside Fine Art in Claremont. “I am fortunate to have been able to spend the last three years surrounded by fine art and meeting many creative and interesting people.”
After 33 years teaching junior high, Steve retired to embrace his passion and try something new. In June, he will celebrate his three-year anniversary selling art by some of California’s celebrated contemporary artists. The
gallery is located on the patio of the Old School House complex next to Candlelight Pavilion which is above the parking lot of Trader Joe’s in Claremont. It is a small and cozy space which specializes in representational art done in the California style. There are usually 80 paintings hung. The 15 artists Steve represents all belong to the historic California Art Club, headquartered in Pasadena and started over 100 years ago. “I would love to have opened a gallery in Carmel or Laguna, but my home has been in Claremont for 30 years, so I tried to create a gallery you would find in those art centers here in my hometown.”
Paintings in the gallery are of familiar places like Yosemite National Park, or Crystal Cove, Point Lobos outside of Carmel, Laguna Beach, Back Bay in Newport, lakes and mountains in the Sierras. Paintings also include still-lifes of flowers, fountains, and fruit, as well as figurative paintings of people at work and play. The owner says he always tries to have a selection of paintings which would suit an established art collection or help begin someone’s new interest in collecting. He keeps his prices affordable and wants everyone to feel comfortable to come in and take a look. “When I was planning the gallery, it was important for me to have comfy chairs for people to sit in, hang out, and talk. I see this as a gathering place as much as a retail store.”
“I’ve learned many things in three years, but the most important has been patience,” said the gallerist. “As a teacher, I would put an assignment on the board or ask my class to do something, and I would immediately see results. In the gallery I can advertise, have reception, post things on Facebook or my website, but it doesn’t mean I will see an immediate rush of sales. Still in three short years it has been amazing to build a reputation in the art world as a knowledgeable and reliable gallery owner.” Steve sees the gallery as an extension of his teaching career. Not only does he continue to learn about artistic technique and composition from his artists, but customers teach him new ways of looking at a painting. “Art is all about seeing,” observed Steve. “Customers come in and share what they observe in a painting, what they like and don’t like about an artist’s style, how it makes them feel or what it reminds them of. The customer might be reacting to a painting that I have been looking at for months, causing me to see it in a new way; and yet, the painting will speak to every observer differently. That is what art does.”
The gallery has seven to eight special exhibitions a year. It just finished “Curves” and “Silver and Gold” but has also held shows entitled “Vacations,” “Claremont and its Environs,” as well as many one man shows highlighting the work of individual Hillside artists. “Working with and talking to all of these creative people has been the greatest gift,” Steve said. “Being able to share their work and help them make a living has made life after teaching meaningful and worthwhile.”
If you would like to visit this special little spot, it is located at the intersection of Indian Hill and Foothill Boulevards in Claremont — 445 West Foothill Blvd., Suite 101.