CCMA History

The Chaffey Community Museum of Art was founded in 1941 as the Chaffey Community Art Association. One of only a few public fine art museums in the Inland Empire, the museum displays works from its Permanent Collection of watercolors in the California Style as well as works by prominent regional artists dating from the 1920s to the present.

The Museum was founded by Ontario residents Francis and Helen Line after a personal tragedy -- the death of their 8-year-old daughter Barbara Claire from leukemia. Their initial gift of nine paintings, known as the Barbara Line Memorial Collection, has been expanded over the years through purchase prize competitions and gifts of artists and art supporters.

Francis Line was a filmmaker, author, and world traveler. He gained popularity by making travel films that he showed to schools and organizations, accompanying the films with a lecture about his adventures. In 1943 the Lines left Ontario and relocated in Eagle Rock (where Occidental College is located). They purchased the eagle rock – a massive boulder at the city’s northern edge containing an indentation that casts a bird-shaped shadow on the rock at certain times of day – and surrounding 20 acres and lived in Eagle Rock for the next 17 years before moving to Capistrano Beach.

Besides traveling to gain material for his films, Francis and Helen visited young artists in California and other western states, encouraging their work and often buying their paintings. The Barbara Line Memorial Collection consists of representative pieces from the Lines's private collection, including Desert River by Conrad Buff (whose great grandson was the film editor of the blockbuster movie Titanic); Louise by Thomas Craig (who was the son of a practicing physician in Ontario); Blue House by Thomas Craig; Storm at Sequoia by Emil Kosa, Jr.; Mineral King by Paul Lauritz; After the Sing by Marjorie Reed Lindgren; Barbara by Marion Olds; Iron Mountain by Clyde Scott; and Dorothy by Anna Wilson.

The Lines grew the collection by promoting a Purchase Prize Art Exhibit of Contemporary American Painting in Ontario and held the first exhibit in October 1941 in the girl’s gymnasium at Chaffey High School. Artists submitted paintings for acceptance into the exhibit, and one was chosen as “best of show”. The prize was a cash purchase of the painting – hence the name. The annual competition continued until 1963 when Chaffey High School could no longer host the exhibits. In addition to annual Purchase Prizes, the Collection grew through donations by artists and art supporters to expand to new artists, media, styles and themes. Additional collections include Pigs to Pig Iron, Harriet White and the Robert George Memorial Collection.

Helen Line passed away in 1993 and is buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Ontario near her daughter Barbara. Francis Line passed away in 1999 and is also buried in Bellevue Cemetery. Upon his death, he bequeathed $50,000 to CMA. His younger daughter Adrienne Line Knute, herself an author, resides in New Mexico.

For nearly four decades, CCMA was a “museum without walls” with no permanent location to show its collection. That changed when the Museum of History and Art, Ontario was founded and housed in the former City Hall complex on Euclid Avenue. CCMA was invited to provide the art program there and for 20 years put on high quality exhibits and programs at the museum. The Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1981 in its new home with an exhibit entitled Watercolor I featuring the art of Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, Phil Paradise, Millard Sheets, Robert E. Wood and Milford Zornes.

The co-location with the Ontario Museum continued until 2000 when the needs of both the history and art exhibits outgrew the space. At the invitation of the J. Filippi Winery, CCMA moved to the north wing of the winery, providing an opportunity to explore the synergism of fine art and fine wine.

In 2012, thanks to the foresight of the Ontario City Council and the City Manager, the City of Ontario invited CCMA to become part of its downtown Arts District. The Museum has a 20-year lease on the historic 1919 Ontario Power Company building on Lemon Street, directly to the east of the Museum of History and Art, Ontario. With its 12-foot high ceilings and north-facing sawtooth roof line with clerestory windows, the building is an ideal venue for a museum. CCMA re-opened in its first solo location in September 2013.

The building has four galleries: the Main Gallery and South Gallery whose temporary exhibits change every two months on a rotating schedule; the Spotlight Gallery exhibiting the work of a member artist for a month; and the Line Gallery showing selections from the Permanent Collection, changing quarterly. Receptions for opening exhibits are held monthly on Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 pm. For a schedule of current exhibits, click here.



Events at the Museum

Artist Reception

October 6, 2019 - 2 pm to 4 pm

West End Photo Open (WEPO)
Announcement of Prize Winners at 3 pm

Mid Valley Art League

Imagination in Clay
Richard Perre

2019 Ontario Festival of the Arts

Saturday, October 19, 2019
11 am to 7 pm 
Over 50 participating visual artists
Music and dance performances
Arts Learning and Demonstrations
Mini walking tour of historic buildings
Food trucks and craft beer vendors
Free admission
in the Arts District
217 S. Lemon Ave., Ontario.

Art at Airport

CCMA is managing the public art program at the airport on behalf of the Ontario International Airport Authority and the City of Ontario Community Life & Culture Agency.Artist installations can now be seen in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 4.

Current exhibiting artists are:

Dee Marcellus Cole, Cosme Cordova, Jesus Cruz, Jr., Gina Lawson Egan, Sumi Foley, Cathy Garcia, Karen Karlsson, Sant Khalsa, Denise Kraemer, Steven Long, Cindy Rinne and Larry White.

Life Drawing Session at CCMA

Live model
Sessions are the third Thursday of the month
10 am to 3 pm
$15 -- open to all

 Open Studio at CCMA

Fridays from 11 am – 3 pm
Where artists meet to create and share their artwork in an unstructured environment.

Open Studio at CCMA is a place for artists to come together and create art in the presence of other artists. It is intended to foster creativity, exchange, conversation, encouragement and freedom of artistic expression. All artists are welcome and invited to participate.

Open Studio at CCMA is held every Friday from 11 am to 3 pm. Artists should bring all their own supplies + a sack lunch, drinks and snacks as desired. CCMA will provide a coffee maker, refrigerator and small microwave for the use of participants.
Free for CCMA members
$20 for guests

CCMA in the News

Ontario Connects

View highlights of Sheets, Sheets & Caughman CCMA/OMHA exhibition
Art for Living and Living for Art
by clicking on the title

Joe Blackstock

Inland Valley historian Joe Blackstock visits CCMA to view the nine paintings of the Barbara Line Memorial Collection. Click here to view article.
 IEShineOn, an online source for events and activities in the Inland Empire, featured CCMA. To view the article, click here.

Suzanne Sproul

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist Suzanne Sproul reports on the Sheets, Sheets & Caughman exhibit Art for Living and Living for Art. To view the article, click here. Read about CCMA's 75th anniversary in 2016 by clicking here. 

David Allen
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen visits CCMA's outdoor sculpture at the front of the museum. The sculpture was created by Fullmer Construction superintendent Gary Rue entirely from materials leftover from construction the parking lot next door. Click here to see a photo and read David's blog.

Trevor Summons

Click here  or click here to read about CCMA
in Trevor Summon's column

Foothills Reader

Click here to read about CCMA
in the Foothills Reader

217 S. Lemon Ave
Ontario, CA 91761-1623

Free Admission
Thursday through Sunday
noon — 4:00 pm

Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Rent the Museum for your event

The Museum is available year-round as a venue for compatible events of small to medium-sized groups. For more information, including rental rates, available days and times, and floor plan, click here.

 217 S. Lemon Ave, Ontario, CA 91761 • 909.463.3733 • • Thursday-Sunday, noon - 4 pm • Free Admission