Claremont Insider: David Allen on Art and Vanished Places

Saturday, January 19, 2008

David Allen on Art and Vanished Places

David Allen had a profile of Claremont artist Karl Benjamin in his Daily Bulletin column:

A Chicago native who went to college in Redlands after his World War II service, Benjamin became an artist by accident while teaching sixth grade in Bloomington in 1949.

The principal told him that besides math, English and the like, he had to teach art for 45 minutes a day. Benjamin had no clue what to do.

"So I passed out paper and crayons and told them to do art," Benjamin recalled. "They drew the usual stuff, cars and mountains and trees. It was really boring. So I told them to just do colors."

Inspired by the results, Benjamin went to the library and got art books. Modern art really grabbed him. He bought paints and began imitating artists he liked: Miro, Picasso, de Kooning, Pollock.

"Which is a pretty good way to learn," he remarked. "You choose your teacher."

He had early success, culminating with a 1959 show, "Four Abstract Classicists," in which he was one of four artists. It began at the L.A. County Museum of Art and traveled to San Francisco, New York and London.

Allen also blogged about bygone places in the area in a post called "Things That Aren't Here Anymore:"

Bill Ruh wrote me a nostalgic e-mail which became the main topic of today's column. He recalled past department stores and restaurants of his Inland Valley youth, places like W.T. Grant's, Berger's and the Rockette.

The discussion thread had over 75 comments, and you'll find a lot of people chiming in with their own memories of the past. If you're interested in all the changes going on in Claremont these days, you might want to take a look at Allen's post.