Sam and the Huntington Library and Gardens

My last post was about Sam Maloof, the amazing mid-century craftsman whose home and garden we toured out in Rancho Cucamonga. Before that, we visited the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino and saw another exhibit there that featured his work, called The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in Pomona. This is one of Maloof’s benches. (The painting is by Karl Benjamin.)


Besides his furniture, the exhibit (part of the Pacific Standard Time series) included art work by about 30 other artists who worked in the same Pomona community during the 50s and 60s and on. (There is a consortium of universities there–Pomona College, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, etc.)  This painting is by Paul Darrow, an artist who is in his 90s and lives in my hometown of Laguna Beach. He also was my mom’s favorite painting teacher when she attended Clairemont  graduate school in the late 50s.


An artist named Henry Lee McFee (who I’ve never heard of) painted this still life. I love the succulent, which are enjoying such a renaissance in gardening circles these days. It just show that artists have always appreciated their sculptural quality.


Another Pomona-Clairemont arist, Roger Kunz, painted this piece. He also lived in Laguna Beach, but he died in the 70s. I thought it was cool that my mom also took painting from him during this time. My mom passed away just over five years ago–she would have turned 80 last Sunday–so this exhibit was pretty special to me to see. I would have loved to attend it with her and hear her stories from those days. (It also featured ceramics by Paul Soldner, a famous Pomona potter and her ceramics instructor who influenced her greatly.)


This painting is by James Strombotne, a self portrait. His work is shown at a gallery in our town–Joanne Artman–but he taught art in Riverside for 40 years. Coincidentally, one of my best friends, Carey, is married to his son! Check out her blog on his work. The exhibit is outstanding, and features all media–from sculpture to ceramics to paintings and weavings. The Pomona artists’ community there was known to be very mutually supportive, and it’s so cool they are finally being celebrated.





If you are into woodworking, Maloof’s work is exquisite. This is one of his chairs, all hand-crafted. (The painting, “Little Old Windmill,” is by Emil Kosa.)
After enjoying the exhibit, we had to check out the gardens. This is the best art of all! We all agreed to head to our favorite part–the desert garden. (The place is huge!) It was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny. (We have yet to have winter. Today was in the 80s.)



The aloe was going off.



I don’t have much to add to these photos, so just check out as much as you want from here.














Is this place unreal? All I can say is GO!! Doesn’t matter what time of year–something is always spectacular. But if you want to catch the Sam Maloof exhibit, you must go by…oh no! It ended Jan. 30. Well, dang it all. Click here for a wonderful tour on the blog Mid-Centuria.  But the Huntington Garden and Library is open all the time!!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Here’s the beautiful catalog (coffee table book) from the exhibit. I bought a copy and love it!
(Click link or image to buy one.)

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One thought on “Sam and the Huntington Library and Gardens

  1. Thanks for the tour…it is only a day's drive from here. Work always gets in the way! Visited there once in 1989, and the art work would be worth it, but the gardens…mmmm! The Sam Maloof piece you show looks perfect for all the mid-century modern architecture I am starting to expose myself to.

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