By Barbara Falconer Newhall
The mythology of prehistory continues to beckon to sculptor Patricia Bengtson-Jones. For decades, the Berkeley, California, artist has been exploring stone, bronze, steel and glass as a way to deepen her connection with the “world/universe/cosmos.”
Bengtson-Jones’ life in art began in the 1960s when the last of her daughters went off to college. She started out as a painter, then found her way into sculpture during the 1970s.
Time and the ancient and pre-historic past have been contining sources of fascination for Bengtson-Jones. For her, the faraway past seems to re-emerge when the stones of ancient structures rise to Earth’s surface. Much of her work with stone in particular reflects this connection between present, past and “the reality I’m not alone.”
The much-celebrated Bengtson-Jones continues to teach sculpture at her Second Street studio in Berkeley. She has shown her work in dozens of California venues over the years, including the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. Her outdoor installations have graced the Paradise Ridge Winery Sculpture Grove in Santa Rosa, the Orinda Community Center and Library, and the Hatley Martin Art Gallery in San Francisco.
At the moment, Bengtson-Jones is working with ink, pencil and pastels on paper to explore the mysterious runes of her Nordic ancestry.
Everywhere I stepped during a recent visit to her crowded studio during East Bay Open Studios, I was arrested by yet another work in stone, metal, glass — or all three.
I was tempted to write a check and take home one of Bengtson-Jones’ massive sculptures, but I
didn’t think I could bring hundreds of pounds of bardiglio marble into our house without first consulting Jon.
I settled for a framed sketch inspired by Bengtson-Jones’ latest preoccupation with Nordic runes. Twenty bucks and fifteen ounces later I had a souvenir from Bengtson-Jones’ journeys into the unknown to keep me company in my writing room.
More artists and craftspeople at “The Ghost of 300 Million Drought-Killed Trees Hovers Over a Lake in Texas,” and “Oakland’s Jingletown: Arts, Crafts — and Cool Kitsch.”