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Ontario Museum of History & Art Announces New Art Exhibit, Conduit

By Ontario Museum of History & Art
Community Writer
02/06/2024 at 07:35 PM

The Ontario Museum of History & Art presents Conduit, its newest art exhibit that is inspired by the recently opened Built on Water: Ontario and Inland Southern California permanent exhibit. Guest curated by Debra Scacco, Conduit uncovers how the diversion of water has shaped the way we live through a critical examination of the tension between urban growth and the natural world. Conduit will open on Thursday, February 15 with a Community Reception on Saturday, February 17 from 6-9pm, in conjunction with the quarterly Ontario Art Walk. 

“Cities world-wide are centered around water, and the same is true of Ontario. The rivers, lakes, wetlands and streams that sustained Indigenous peoples for millennia have undergone dramatic transformations, and have been dammed, piped and diverted beyond recognition,” said curator Debra Scacco. “This group of artists has been brought together thanks to their diverse and astute observations of feedback loops. Beginning from the diversion of water, Conduit presents conversations of native and non-native species, availability of plant material for cultural practice, fire, industry and of course water itself. The dialogue between these works explores how abundance quickly followed by scarcity has shaped the modern world. And how history is the most apt teacher of the future.”


The artists showcased in Conduit include: 

  • christy roberts berkowitz: Will showcase drawings of plant life resulting from multiple years of research and her current work with the Indigenous ecosystems of Southern California. At the center of the installation is a drawing of two invasive plant species anchored in a frame of heavy charcoal, a material used to stop the spread of this plant life. Complementing this work is a series of drawings of native plants significant to the local Serrano culture. Her exhibitions have been hosted and/or commissioned by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, MOCA Los Angeles, Getty Museum, Chrysler Museum of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and many others.
  • Lauren Bon: Will showcase works created in the context of the Salton Sea, examining the potential for artists to create new speculative ecologies that advocate for a culture of care. Lauren is an environmental artist from Los Angeles, CA. Her practice, Metabolic Studio, explores self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web. 
  • Gerald Clarke: Will create an interior installation focused on water rights, the preservation of sacred sites, and the impact of suburban sprawl on Native lands and communities; as well as off-site water-inspired activation at the cactus garden on the site of the former Fallis Department Store. Gerald is an enrolled citizen of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and is currently a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California Riverside where he teaches classes in Native American art, history and culture.
  • Noé Montes: Will produce an interior installation of new and archival materials focusing on Pyrite Canyon in Jurupa Valley. One of the first Superfund sites in the U.S., toxic substances have both leached into groundwater and flowed into storm channels. Noé is an award-winning artist based in Los Angeles. For more than 20 years, his work has documented underrepresented communities to effect change through storytelling, education and advocacy around social, economic, and environmental issues.
  • Samantha Morales Johnson: Will show drawings that detail a study she completed on native vs non-native plants on Tongva Conservancy land. Samantha is an Afro-Indigenous (Gabrielino/Tongva) multidisciplinary artist, environmental scientist, and learning ethnobotanist. Her work is inspired by resistance against climate change and the colonist roots underneath the environmental distresses we experience today. 
  • Stuart Palley: Will share photographic work based on a decade-long commitment to documenting California wildfire. He has formal wildland fire training, and is a contractor for the US Forest Service, photographing wildland fires for the federal government as a single resource officially assigned to wildland fire incidents. His monograph, Terra Flamma: Wildfires at Night, defines the state's drought and urban sprawl challenges.
  • Lorene Sisquoc: Will share her work as a teacher of basket-making and Native Plant Uses and Material Culture/Traditions throughout Southern California. She is the Curator of the Sherman Indian Museum, and is a descendant of the Mountain Cahuilla and a member of the Fort Sill Apache tribe.


Built on Water: Ontario and Inland Southern California focuses on the history and future of water in the Ontario region. It brings together the story of local water agencies, regional tribes, agriculture, water conservation, and the creation of the City of Ontario. By focusing on local and tangible history, including the traditional ecological knowledge of the Tongva/Gabrielino community and regional indigenous tribes in stewarding and caring for water resources and the environment, as well as partnering with other area water-related institutions, archives and collections, the exhibit aims to increase empathy, access, and engagement on the vital issue of water conservation.


Conduit is made possible, in part, by a grant from The Inland SoCal Creative Corps, a component fund at The Inland Empire Community Foundation. The Ontario Museum of History & Art is located at 225 S. Euclid Avenue, Ontario, CA 91762. The hours are Thursday and Friday, Noon to 4 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM. Admission to the Museum and exhibit is free. To learn more about Conduit visit,


Additional Information
The Ontario Museum of History & Art preserves, interprets, and celebrates the history and cultural heritage of Ontario and the surrounding area. From developing exhibitions, to engaging visitors through educational experiences, and events that inspire creative action, the Museum is an anchor to the growing downtown arts district. The Museum recently achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. The Museum is uniquely housed in Ontario’s former City Hall, a historical landmark funded by the Works Progress Administration. 




About Debra Scacco
Debra Scacco's 25+ year research-based practice examines cartography as an exercise of power. Through this lens, her work lives at the intersection of ecology, history and policy; in the uncomfortable space where everything is connected. She recognizes that violence against water is violence against all living beings; and recognizes the Los Angeles River as a physical manifestation of both colonization and resilience. Debra is the founder of research-based artist residency and event series housed at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Air Projects and Co-Director of Getty PST Art project Brackish Water Los Angeles. She is the first civic-appointed artist-in-residence for the City of Santa Monica’s Water Division and Resource Recovery & Recycling (RRR) (Waste) Division.


About the Ontario Museum of History & Art

The Ontario Museum of History & Art is located at 225 S. Euclid Avenue, Ontario, California 91762. Gallery hours are Thursday and Friday, Noon to 4 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free. The Ontario Museum of History & Art is a facility of the City of Ontario’s Department of Museum, Arts & Culture. The Ontario Museum of History & Art Associates is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization that supports the Museum’s education programs. For more information call (909) 395-2510, email, visit or follow @ontariomusuem_artsculture on Instagram.


About the City of Ontario

The City of Ontario is enhancing the quality-of-life by creating urban lifestyle districts that create sustainable places to live, work and play. Located just east of Los Angeles and Orange counties, the City of Ontario is ideally situated as a gateway to Southern California. With major freeways, rail transportation and an International Airport, Ontario invites the rest of the world to be a part of a culturally diverse community with rich history that is well positioned for quality development and economic sustainability for its residents. Complementing its business and residential core, Ontario offers premium entertainment venues such as the Ontario Convention Center, Toyota Arena, and Ontario Mills. To learn more about the City of Ontario, visit or call (909) 395-2000.