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California gets old-fashioned look

Artist Tom Oliver discusses the subjects in his paintings with gallery visitor Nancy Curtis. Oliver, a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, hosted his first exhibition at the Arts Colony in Pomona. The historic Walker House, located in San Dimas, was completed in 1887 and is home to the San Dimas Historical Society and the San Dimas Festival of Arts. / photo by Christian Uriate

Mariela Patron
Staff Writer

People viewed the artwork of Tom Oliver and Margot Lennartz Friday at the Second Story Gallery at the Walker House in San Dimas.

The Second Story Gallery gave visitors an opportunity to view two different types of artwork; Oliver’s modern, with an old-fashioned twist city paintings and Lennartz’ more classic scenic art.

Oliver’s acrylic paintings portray iconic Los Angeles buildings such as the Mayan Theatre, Hotel Rosslyn and popular streets like 6th Street in a way that had a 1950s and 1960s impression to them.

Although Oliver did not grow up in Los Angeles, once he moved there he became interested in the city.

“If there’s anything you’re into, there’s a store for you here,” Oliver said.

The use of different shades of blue for skies brightened the room and was a common color in most of Oliver’s paintings.

When it comes to his paintings, Oliver tends to gravitate toward buildings and city signs because he works as a city planner.

“I paint anything from 1970 back,” Oliver said. “I try to picture the old Warner Bros. cartoons, like Bugs Bunny.”

Painting has always been part of Oliver’s life, but it was not until one of his friends motivated him to display and sell his art that his paintings became popular.

Oliver’s paintings are simple, but illustrate a Los Angeles that looks animated and old fashioned. Oliver was able to capture the history of Los Angeles’ architecture that is often overlooked by the busy people.

Lennartz’s California landscape oil paintings were also on display, which included desert, mountain and ocean landscapes.

Lennartz received art training in Berlin, and when she moved to Southern California she became inspired by its scenery.

“Both of them (the artists) call your attention in different ways,” Johanna Campos, who graduated from UCLA with a degree in art history, said. “I’m a city girl, but I also appreciate scenery.”

In some of their paintings, Lennartz uses purple to softly outline the trees and bushes, like her painting of Eaton Canyon. Her paintings had subtle colors that made the scenes feel peaceful and life-like.

Other than creating her own work, Lennartz also teaches painting in La Crescenta. Some of her students were in attendance at the gallery.

“She’s a fabulous artist,” Loni Brown, Lennartz’s student, said. “Her use of color is outstanding.”

Exhibitions at the Second Story Gallery are free and are every second and third Friday and Saturday of each month.

Mariela Patron can be reached at

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