New exhibit at Claremont Lewis Museum of Art

Tucked away at the end of the Claremont Village, nestled between the railroad tracks and office buildings, lies a quaint art museum named the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art. Taking the shape of an ornately decorated train depot, the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art is known for its stunning artwork and sculptures by various skilled artists all with roots and history in the city. Since 1987, the museum has had a dedication to bringing a touch of elegance to Claremont.

From the months of February to April, the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art is displaying the works of two artists new to the museum, a ceramicist/painter and a woodworker. Both with roots in Claremont that tie into their respective works.

For Andrée M. Mahoney, a ceramicist, and painter, her work with paint and clay embodies the transient nature of her childhood. Having a father who served in the military, Mahoney moved from home to home all over the country which went on to affect her perception of the world but also exposed her to many different cultures and walks of life, which all stimulated her growing curiosity about the world. Growing up during a radical time in United States history from the 1950s to the 60s, Mahoney was moved by what she experienced, particularly the feminist ideals that rose to popularity. Her exhibition at the museum, “Spirit Voyager,” celebrates the rich diversity Mahoney experienced all throughout her life. The piece’s main goal is to enlighten viewers of the cosmos and take them on a journey that navigates land, sea, and sky. Showcasing topics such as motherhood, sensuality, communication, and links between cultures, Mahoney uses her paint and clay to move viewers to breathe life into these timeless topics. The exhibit has been curated by the artist’s daughter, Monica Lynne Mahoney.

Leila Cano, a museum associate, weighs in on the importance and significance of the art.

“The Mahoney exhibit is nothing short of psychedelic and colorful,” said Cano. “It is really uniquely curated, the way the pieces are organized within the museum tells a story within itself. It really is something for all ages.”

Vince Skelly is a Claremont-based woodworker who is the other newly featured artist at the museum. His exhibit, “A Conversation with Trees,” hones his keen ability to carve wood into large and decadent pieces of art meant to tell stories and elicit emotion. With many of his sculptures using fallen wood from the Claremont wind storm last year, Skelly looks to explore the line between a sculpture and a functional, proper everyday object. A core tenet of Skelly’s work is drawn from the wood he uses, the sustainability of which is very important to him. Due to the debris from the wind storm, Skelly was able to harvest plentiful amounts. Turning the destruction and chaos of the event into a beautiful and thought-provoking object that turns heads is a testament to Skelly’s woodworking ability and artistic vision. The wood structures themself are large in stature and command attention. The works range from functional objects like wood grain benches to more abstract sculptural objects. Each work is made from a single piece of wood, which is whittled away, carved according to processes deep in the mind of Skelly, and finally unveiled. The minimalist nature of the exhibition is calming and allows the simplicity and resilience of nature to breathe through his sculptures, which led his work to be featured in the June 2022 issue of Architectural Digest.

Cano also shares her thoughts on Skelly’s exhibit.

“Skelly’s concept of renewal is really inspiring to me, and I think everyone can draw some inspiration from it as well,” said Cano. “Skelly’s craftsmanship is next to none and I am really excited for visitors to see this one.”

The exhibits, held at the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art, will be open to the public from Feb. 18 to April 23, 2023. Kids under 18 and students are granted free admission, but those who do not fall into those categories must pay five dollars. Please visit the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art for more information on the exhibits and the overall museum.