Village loses art ‘institution,’ as Square I relocates

Marodeen Ebrahimzadeh, owner of Square I Gallery and Artist Trait, pictured Tuesday at the gallery. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo |

A bittersweet goodbye is on the horizon for Marodeen Ebrahimzadeh, 72. After more than two decades in the Village, rising rent has forced the owner of Square I Gallery and Artist Trait to pack up his pieces and framing tools ahead of a move to the College Business Park on the Claremont/Upland border.

The 110 N. Harvard Avenue space will remain open through February’s Claremont Art Walk and his annual open invitation exhibition, “Red on Red,” 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, February 3.

Many in the art community were saddened by the news. Artist Sylvia Megerdichian described Square I as an institution.

“He’s framed all my works throughout the years and given me two solo shows, which was a big honor,” Megerdichian said. “As you probably know, when an artist does art and they put it in the closet, of course nobody sees it. It’s like an opera singer singing in the shower and nobody hearing her or him. So it’s the same thing with a painter. You want the public to see [the work] and enjoy it.”

Marodeen Ebrahimzadeh, owner of Square I Gallery and Artist Trait, will soon move his businesses to College Business Park. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

Artist and Cal Poly Pomona instructor Gina Lawson Egan has exhibited at Square I and held her crochet group, “Stitch and Bitch,” there for five years. (The group will continue at the new space.)

“The reason that the gallery is so special is because of Marodeen Ebrahimzadeh,” she wrote in an email. “No matter how busy he is, Marodeen will always put people first.”

Ebrahimzadeh always had an affection for the arts. He studied interior design at University of Art in Tehran, Iran, and founded a furniture making shop shortly after college. While in Germany celebrating his brother’s wedding, news spread of the Iranian Revolution, the uprising that led to Iran becoming an Islamic republic. Ebrahimzadeh lost his shop and livelihood in the turmoil that followed, and immigrated to the United States in 1978.

He found an apartment in Rancho Cucamonga and landed a job delivering the Daily Bulletin newspaper during the day and an overnight factory shift near his home. He also found time to attend evening classes at Claremont High School to learn English.

Ebrahimzadeh continued his education at Chaffey College and California State University, Fullerton, learning printmaking.

“What happens is when you make prints, you have to frame them,” he said. “Framing was expensive so I … took my skill of furniture design and I start making simple frames and people liked what I was doing.”

He made frames in his garage for about two years and in the early 1980s moved into a space on Euclid Avenue in Ontario, which became Artist Trait, a fine art gallery and custom framing shop. Ebrahimzadeh remained in Ontario before moving to Claremont in 1991, first at 116 N. Harvard Ave., which is now the home of Crème Bakery. In 2006 he moved next door to 110 N. Harvard Ave. and rebranded as Square I Gallery with Artist Trait in the back. One of the first exhibits at the new space featured well known Claremont friends such as Milford Zornes, Aldo Casanova, Jim Fuller, and Karl Benjamin. Since then he’s exhibited Megerdichian, Lawson Egan, Athena Hahn Susan Hertel and numerous others. One can also find Ebrahimzadeh’s art, including bookends and statues, on his shelves.

Always on the lookout for new, original works, Ebrahimzadeh’s plan for Square I never wavered from giving local art patrons fresh work to enjoy.

“If I see an artist that he or she [has] something new to offer — not copying somebody — I’m interested,” he said. “You have to give the person a voice.

“I like when art is communicating with you.”

For Ebrahimzadeh, art is about the human connections one makes while talking over wine and cheese. The business comes second.

“This is a house, come enjoy it,” he said. “You don’t have to buy anything. Just come, enjoy, and eat and go home. That’s what art opening for me is, not selling the art, it’s the human part.”

Ebrahimzadeh’s passion for art and custom framing will continue at his new locations: Artist Trait at 1330 Monte Vista Ave., Unit 17, Claremont, which is set to open in early March; and Square I at 1326 Monte Vista Ave., Unit 5, Upland, by April.

He will continue to participate in the monthly Claremont Art Walk once settled.


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