November 25, 2019

Passings: Celebrating the Life and Art of Paul Darrow

ARTISTIC LEGACY: With Millard Sheets, alumnus Paul Darrow laid the foundation of Claremont's growing artistic reputation. Photo courtesy of Eric Stoner

Acclaimed multi-media artist, cartoonist, professor, and mentor Paul Darrow passed away earlier this month at the age of 98. Darrow was a key player in distinguishing Claremont as an important center of Postwar Modernism in Southern California. Darrow also was well-known in the Claremont community for nearly 50 years for his art and educational contributions to the Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Courier.

After serving in World War II, Darrow studied art at Claremont Graduate School from 1945 – 1949. After completing his master’s degree, he started gaining recognition as an artist when his well-known cartoons began appearing in the Courier (and continued for the next 50 years). Most of Darrow’s beloved cartoons depicted his interpretation of the decades’ social and political atmosphere.

Darrow’s reputation as a teacher and mentor grew over an impressive 37 years of teaching at Scripps College, CGU, the Otis Art Institute, and California Institute of Technology, among many others.

Darrow, along with Millard Sheets, Barbara Beretich, Betty Davenport Ford, and many others, were celebrated in the documentary “Design for Modern Living: Millard Sheets and the Claremont Art Community 1935-1975.” The documentary paid tribute to the evolution of the Southern California art scene.

Paul Darrow. Photo: Claremont Courier

For longtime CGU professor and artist Roland Reiss, Darrow was “an outstanding key professor in the Scripps College art program and with many students at Claremont Graduate University.”

Darrow’s art extended far beyond city lines, appearing in multiple galleries across California, and his cartoons have appeared in the New York Times and New York Magazine. His talents and passion for the arts had no limits; he gifted the world with hundreds of pieces of ceramics, collages, book illustrations, photography, painting, and writing.

Over the course of his career several paintings and collages were included in exhibits at the Pasadena Museum of California Art as well as at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Pacific Standard Time exhibitions.

Some of Darrow’s unique style is transformed into other forms of art, including eye-catching painted landscapes, assemblage, and collages, which often possess spiritual undertones.

“He brought to every situation a sense of humor that was amusing, bantering, playful and challenging on a very subtle level, ” said Reiss. “Everyone loved being around him because he brought such a good spirit to everything including the creative enterprise.”

Paul Darrow
Cosmic Relic, 1959
Etching, #2 of #25
Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Photo by Jan Blair

Darrow is survived by his children Chris Darrow; Joan Darrow and her husband, David Lindley; Elizabeth Darrow Jones; and Eric Darrow and his wife Rochelle Darrow. He is also survived by his grandchildren Steven Darrow, Roseanne Lindley, Eric Cartwright, Mahlea Jones-Bergmann, Lauren Jones, and Bryce Darrow; and great-grandchildren Brennen, Vivienne, Desmond, and Ciel.