A gift of art, Ontario

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Downtown Ontario’s Chaffey Community Museum of Art has received two gifts, both of them as a result of a new parking structure next door.

The structure, on Transit Street (see bottom picture; view is from the structure’s southeast corner), serves the new San Bernardino County Health Department office building on the long-vacant southeast corner of Holt Boulevard and Euclid Avenue. The museum, housed since 2013 in a 1907-built power building¬†at 217 S. Lemon St., is in the same block as the two-level parking structure.

First, a round concrete pad for sculptures near the museum entrance was added at the city’s request during the cement pours for the parking structure and curbing (see photo above).

Second, and more intriguingly, there’s a rock basket, made as a decorative element for the front lawn (see photo up top). How that came about is worth noting.

Fullmer Construction built the structure. Museum staffer Jenelle Lowry struck up a friendship with the work crew, watching over the site for them, while they kept the front of the museum clear of construction dust and debris, and with supervisor Gary Rue. She asked him to save her some scrap rebar for a future art project.

Rue got inspired, recalling the sight of rock baskets in Boulder City, Arizona, during a recent visit. He hit up some colleagues for materials and built the basket and rocks as a present for the museum.

“The entire project was made with scrap material from the construction of the parking structure,” marveled museum president Nancy DeDiemar Jones. “The rebar is fixed in a cement pad that has been partly sunk into the grass. Before the river rocks were added (and I think those came from the construction site too) the rebar and cement pad weighed 400 pounds, so it is unlikely someone will walk off with the rock basket.”

It’s certainly a novel addition to the museum. Rue will be honored June 14 at the museum’s artists reception. He should exchange his hard hat for a beret.

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Christmas in April

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The artists who in 2014 restored the 64 figures in the Euclid Avenue Nativity display, an Ontario tradition that began in 1959, were feted Monday with lunch at the Ontario Convention Center. Some of the figures were there too for everyone to admire.

Above, from left, Milica Jelisavcic, Jaime Colindres, Kim Healy Pretti, Walt Wilkey and Christian Knox, plus a friend. (I hope he ate light to save room for the Last Supper.) Not pictured: Kristen Burton, Andy Doherty, Chris Cuzzetti, Nick Gavino and Susi Silvertre.

The NOEL (Nativity on Euclid Landmark) Committee is charged with raising funds to restore and preserve the creches and statues, which were carved by Rudolph Vargas from 1959 to 1968.

A $100,000 donation last year from an anonymous Ontario businessman allowed the committee to commission the above artists to bring the statues back to their original colors, repair the damaged fingers, wings, necks, arms and more, and replace the statues that had gone missing over the years. The backdrops were duplicated digitally by John Edwards or repainted by Rick Caughman to match the originals.

More detail about the restoration can be read on the Christmas on Euclid website.

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Column: Ontario’s Grinder Haven briefly grinds to a halt

A local favorite since 1958, Grinder Haven was closed last month by the Health Department and hasn’t reopened, although that may happen within days after some paperwork gets ironed out. Also: two Culture Corner items about classical concerts, and a recap of my screening of “The Sting,” with a plug for Thursday’s “Unforgiven.” All of this is in Sunday’s column.

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Column: Lakers fan supreme abandons Ontario, not team

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A home in Ontario has long been decked out in Los Angeles Lakers style, inside and out: banners, flags, mobiles, murals, messages in the grass and on the roof, etc. Just when I finally catch up with the homeowner, he’s moving. But that added a news element to Friday’s column.

Above is Martin Espinoza in some team gear outside his garage-door mural; below are views of his home and garage; at bottom, Espinoza points to a key motto on his purple and gold vehicle.

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Column: Film series designed to honor Ontario Oscar-winner

Sunday’s column previews my annual film series at the Ontario City Library. This time I’m showing four classics with little in common other than the production designer, Henry Bumstead — and their own greatness, of course. Bumstead was born and raised in Ontario. Hope some of you will consider coming out for the movies, which screen for free each Thursday in April at 6:30 p.m.

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Column: Ontario has no beef with Carl’s Jr. near Walmart

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Friday’s column ends with highlights from this week’s Ontario council meeting and starts with the observation that a Carl’s Jr. that Ontario had tried to relocate a few yards, without success, is staying put and renovating its building. (Look for a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle burger references.) In the middle there’s a couple of Culture Corner items.

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