Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Timeless Art in Time For the Holidays

"The collected story of Milford Zornes is not the hard fact of history or the cold sculpted marble of mythology. It is the flesh and beating heart of living memory."
-Brian Dale Bywater
"On the Diamond Bar"  by Milford Zornes.
To write about art is the attempt to define the undefinable. Art is formed to reach past roads our minds block. Art cultivates the human heart, enriching our souls and understanding in a way facts alone cannot.

There is an elemental simplicity in the watercolors of the late Milford Zornes and his students which is timeless by design.

"Brea Canyon" by Bill Anderson
The heart of any child of Diamond Bar will be strummed by these first 2 images. The Brahma feedlot is a nod south of  where the 57 freeway freeway casts cool shadow over Brea Canyon Road in the summertime.  A few twist and turns further down the canyon- opposite where Tonner Canyon splits off, the oil towers guard the invisible curtain portending to be a cultural dam between Orange and Los Angeles Counties. As is often the case where subterranean pockets of oil sit and wait through millennium , an earthquake fault razors across, occasionally shaking off  human misconception that we are in charge.  

There was a time in the 1960's that the only way into Diamond Bar from Whittier was to take this winding canyon road. When my kindergarten teacher moved to Diamond Bar in the early days of "sort of" planned development, it was all the talk. It was largely viewed as crazy to move to a sleepy hollow served by a 2 lane road which was treacherous when it rained.

One successful civic incorporation, 2 freeways and 58,730 people later, the cattle ranch born of a Spanish land grant is grown up. Much has changed. But not Brea Canyon Road. When things get busy and a time machine with a re-wind is required, this ever so slightly below grade byway resets the spirit as only a walk back in time can do.

Now departed, we are fortunate Zornes shared his talent with a cadre of like-minded artists.

Joanna Mersereau
 Riverside artist Joanna Mersereau understands her good fortune that Zornes was her mentor.Upon college graduation, her young family gladly traded Illinois winters for the mild climate where UC Riverside offered her husband a $4,000 salary. In 1955, this was a " vast amount of money. " He put his horticulture degree to use in their new citrus experiment while Joanna was employed to try to keep what college students are suspected of doing somewhat under control.

"The Source" by Joanna Mersereau
As an artist, Zornes encouraged Joanna to "keep it simple". Over time, she developed a style she describes as "Narrative structuralism". Having majored in Industrial Design, math is a strength she builds upon through each layer of every work. Vibrant color light up the abstract based designs, queueing the viewer's imagination, unleashing the story with fluidity.
"The Forest Has Eyes" by Joanna Mersereau
The Art of Milford Zornes: Friendships and Inspiration* is produced by Gene Sasse in conjunction with the CCAA Museum of Art show by the same name. Just in time for the holidays the commemorative book will be available for autographing by the author and featured artist/colleagues of Zornes this Sunday from 2-4. The show is FREE and open to the public.
This  special exhibition this Sunday December  12th is from 2-4 PM  at the CCAA Museum of Art. The Museum is at the North Wing of the Joseph Filippi Winery, 12467 Baseline Road, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739.  Additional artwork and jewelry also available for purchase then. 

For more information contact the museum at 909-463-3733

Joanna Mersereau is an award winning signature member of both the American Watercolor Society and Watercolor West. Her home and studio/gallery is in Riverside, California where she lives with a 30-year-old boa named "Rosie."

All images by Gene Sasse. Used with permission. His father built the first structure for Diamond Bar. A custom builder, he built the first sales office.


  1. Lydia,
    Wonderful! I don't know HOW you do it! You write so well on every topic! Love the simple art.
    You brought back memories of the time in 1966 when the Herrera's and the Bowler's loaded up a small moving truck in Whittier and headed for our new homes in Diamond Bar. I remember relatives lamenting that they would have to "pack a lunch" when they came for a visit. Actually we found that we could go have lunch at the coffee shop at the DB Golf Course. My mother thought we were crazy to be moving so far out to the boonies. Hey! Houses were cheaper this far out! Our first home. We had picked two homes and couldn't decide which one to buy. The first one was a single story, cheaper one up in Dean Homes in the north end. I remember the realtor telling us that a freeway was planned to run just below that house. The other was in the south end and a two story which was a bit more expensive. As was our custom, when we were stumped about something, we asked my mother's opinion. Fortunately, knowing real estate she urged us to pay more and get the south end house. What great advice that turned out to be. Walnut Unified! How were we to know back then?
    Well, I have gotten off topic. Memory lane and all that!
    Thanks for sharing those wonderful paintings and memories.

    Hugs, Trisha

  2. Hugs back Trisha!

    This one ran with a typo in in it all day. Yikes. Editing my own work is the only drawback to the blog.

    Our first house in Diamond Bar was one of the Deane Homes. Our experience with the Pomona Unified School District was superior. True confession- we probably would have sent the boys to church school- but we wanted them to have the lessons which come from team sports- which in our faith- the public schools are better.

    Which just goes to show that wherever one lives in Diamond Bar- this is a GREAT place for a family.

  3. Wow - what a testament! Thanks for that, Lydia. Public schools are better in some ways that many people today don't understand. It seems to be the last bastion of diversity (well...maybe not in some elite areas). Imagine a place where children learn, from an early age, how to get along with their peers - white, black, christian, non-christian, boys, girls, and everyone in-between... A place where they witness first-hand the benefits of diversity and the lasting conviction that we are all in it together - a common goal to seek success and find a place of acceptance and happiness in a turbulent world.
    I love that you sent your kids to public schools. I love that you taught your kids compassion and empathy...work ethic and responsibility. It doesn't matter what side of the tracks you're from, we all seek the same thing. Hopefully we can spread that message to Sacramento :)
    Thx for your insight, Lydia.

  4. Dear Kevin- Thank you for checking in and your kind words.

    I am a great beleiver in diversity. Including in educational opportunity. The best communities to raise a child are where there is a mix of private and public. Partly to keep everyone on their toes through healthy competition- and partly because children thrive in different settings. Even within the same family.


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