Sale of artwork proves to be quite profitable for city

A piece of art the city purchased 58 years ago for $350 has been sold for $100,000.

A Frederick Hammersley piece entitled “Quietly” has been sitting for years in the administrative offices of the Hughes Center. It was purchased by the city in 1960 after it won first place at that year’s Claremont Art Fair.

Mr. Hammersley, who died in 2009, was renowned as an abstract painter.

According to Human Services Director Anne Turner, the piece has moved around to different places in city offices over the years without much notice, until an appraisal in 2017 declared the painting had a replacement value at $150,000. Realizing the value of the piece, the city moved “Quietly” and two other high-value paintings—“East of Claremont” by Phil Dike, which was valued at $75,000, and “Form in Red and Orange” by Karl Benjamin, which was valued at $85,000—to the Pomona College Museum of Art for safe-keeping in October 2017.

The PCMA was chosen over the Claremont Museum of Art due to the college museum’s appropriate conditions in their vault, Ms. Turner said. The temperature control, the museum’s capacity to examine it and the opportunity for students to study it made the PCMA the superior choice.

The painting stayed in the vault for two months, when PCMA director Kathleen Howe told the city that the Frederick Hammersley Foundation, which is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, wanted to acquire the panting and restore it to museum-quality. The city agreed on a sale of $100,000, Ms. Turner said.

The foundation plans to  place it in a museum for public viewing, she added.

The money, Ms. Turner said, will go into the city’s public art fund to be used for future public art projects. The sale will be a boon to the fund—the current balance is $133,600, according to the staff report.

The council unanimously approved the sale, 5-0.

Citizens call for safer streets for bikes

Tuesday night’s public comment session featured citizens who called on the council to make Claremont streets safer for cyclists.

Jane Gibbons, who rides her bike to and from the grocery store and the doctor’s office, says the current configuration at intersections is not ideal—to push the button to cross the street, she would have to get off her bike and walk up on the curb. She also claimed the sensors at the intersections don’t pick up cyclists.

Daniel Davis claimed that some cyclists have resorted to riding on sidewalks to escape dangerous situations with motorists, and called Claremont the “least bicycle-friendly city,” in the area, below La Verne, San Dimas, Upland and Rancho Cucamonga.

“I’ll be driving a Ford F-150 now, thank you,” he said as he closed he remarks.

Jessica Miller, who is a part of the Claremont Senior Bike Group, says streets in Claremont were safer when she was a child. A particular hazard is when she has to ride her bike through the scrum at El Roble and Condit Elementary when parents are dropping off their kids.

“I want to encourage people to ride their bicycles, but I have difficulty advocating for this when I find safety such a great concern, especially for seniors, children and the disabled,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Corey Calaycay was concerned about these comments, and asked the city for more feedback.

“I know we made a lot of investments in bike lanes and signals, and to hear the suggestion that La Verne is safer for bicyclists when they haven’t made any of those investments, I’m concerned to hear that,” he said.

Sale of Village land confirmed

The city purchased a vital plot of land in the future location of Village South.

The 1.4-acre parcel, which is located at 451 Arrow Highway just south of the former Richard Hibbard Chevrolet lot, was previously owned by the city’s successor agency to the redevelopment agency.

The money used to purchase the property will come from the city’s general fund reserve, and if at any point the land is sold again, the purchasing money will go back into those reserves, according to the staff report.

The parcel, according to Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor, was on the market for several years at $405,000, but had no serious buyers. The money from the purchase will go to several entities that receive a share of property taxes, including the Claremont Unified School District and Citrus College, Mr. Tudor said. Claremont will receive about $40,000 of the sale.

The council, acting also as representatives of the successor agency, unanimously approved the sale.

The next city council meeting is Tuesday, April 24.

—Matthew Bramlett



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