As coordinator of the CCAA Museum of Art – and the sole paid employee – Jenelle Lowry has her tool cart out and is trying to decide what to display on the walls she has the task of selecting some artwork from its collection to showcase for today’s Dusty Shoes Tour from 2p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We have been working on that cosmetic appearance so it would be ready to show artwork,” she said.
The Sunday tour will give the public a chance to see the museum’s progress since moving into its new home in the downtown back in January.
So far, Lowry has come across a roadblock: the cement walls of the 1919 Ontario Power Company building make it difficult to hang art work, but that’s minor issue, she says.
“It has so many more possibilities that I get excited,” Lowry said.
After patching up holes in the wall, adding about five coats of paint, removing dropped ceiling tiles – and some of the renovation adventures that they still have to encounter – the museum is partially ready for the public.
On Sunday the public will get to see the collection “From the Vault,” named after the location where some of the museum’s collection is being held – in a walk-in safe, said Nancy DeDiemar, president of the CCAA Board of Directors.
Attendees can expect to see about 45 pieces, including work from Betty Davenport-Ford as well as John Svenson.
DeDiemar has spearheaded the move from a shared space in the historic Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga back to Ontario.
“We want people to be excited about the building and what there is to be done in it,” she said about the tour. “This building is fabulous to serve as a museum. It’s got these high ceilings, we’ve got more rooms that are huge and appropriate for gallery space. As well as rooms that are right size for second gallery.”
But DeDiemar said they couldn’t have done it without the city’s support by not only offering $1 a year rent, with the option to renew in 10 years but even provided some office equipment.
The CCAA Museum of Art started out as an art association in 1941 by Ontario residents Francis and Helen Line, who held an annual exhibition in the gymnasium of the Chaffey High School.
The city vacated the former City Hall building just south of Holt in 1972 and it was turned over to the association and the Museum of History and Art, Ontario.
They shared the space until 2000 when the association was able to move into the Filippi Winery where they had 2,500 square feet to display from their permanent collection. It remained in that location until Nov. 30.
The new 5,500 square foot location will allow the CCAA to display its permanent collection, which contains work from artists such as Milford Zornes and Millard Sheets.
“We have a very remarkable collection, given the size of the museum, because of the artists. Many of them began their study and careers at Claremont Colleges and became nationally and internationally renowned as their careers developed,” DeDiemar said.
DeDiemar has plans for the museum to grow its collection.
The CCAA does not have an endowment or any annual income so every year the museum has to raise funds for its entire operating budget which is about $30,000. With hopes of growing operations, such as a separate budget to acquire of artwork, as well as for ongoing maintenance and restoration of artwork, DeDiemar said they’re going to have to raise more funds.
DeDiemar believes in about five years the museum’s annual operating budget will grow between $80,000 and $100,000.
It doesn’t include what the museum needs to raise to accommodate the move and new gallery space. Initially that figure was at $15,000 but it’s now jumped up to about $80,000. The immediate goal will be to raise $30,000 by next year to be able to work on renovations. Those funds will go toward an array of improvements such as pulling out the existing carpeting and refurbishing the original Douglas fir hardwood flooring, removing and adding walls, screening the windows with a special coating to help preserve the art pieces as well as electrical work.
“We intend to be here permanently, I don’t think we can ever run out of things to improve,” she said.