Sculptor Patricia Bengtson-Jones — Connecting with the Cosmos

Patricia-Bengston-Jones with detail of her "Kento Warrior" sculpture of a human figure.  2000.  60"x16"x17,"  bamboo, alabaster, bardiglio marble, ordinao marble, $2,000. Photo by BF Newhall

Patricia-Bengtson-Jones with her “Kento Warrior” sculpture, 2000, bamboo, alabaster, bardiglio marble and ordinao marble. Photo by BF Newhall

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.”

Patricia Bengtson-Jonesbronze and rebar sculpture "Symbol of the Arch," with griffin feet, 1985.  Photo by BF Newhall

Patricia Bengtson-Jones’ “Symbol of the Arch,” 1985, bronze with rebar and griffin feet. Photo by BF Newhall

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

atricia Bengtson-Jones sculpture, "Good Luck to Future Friendships," white marble shapes. Photo by BF Newhall

Bengtson-Jones’ “Good Luck to Future Friendships,” 2003. Photo by BF Newhall

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.”

Abstract sculpture "Passage III," by Patricia Bengtson-Jonesis is  built of Minnesota pipestone and Utah grey stelite. Photo by BF Newhall

Bengtson-Jones’ “Passage III.” Minnesota pipestone and . . .

"Passage III," Patricia Bengtson-Jones. 2006. Minnesota pipestone, Utah grey stelite. Photo by BF Newhall.

. . . Utah grey stelite. Photos by BF Newhall

Left: Patricia Bengtson-Jones' sculpture "Arcades." Carrara marble, limestone base. Right:  "Gnome with Curls on a Voyage." Iron, cast glass. Photo by Barbara Falconer Newhall.

Left: Bengtson-Jones’ “Arcades,” Carrara marble, limestone base. Right: “Gnome with Curls on a Voyage,” iron and cast glass. Photo by BF Newhall

Abstract drawing, "Drawings of Symbols," by sculptor Patricia Bengtson-Jones, 2014. Conte pencil, ink, Conte pastels.  Photo by BF Newhall

On a bookshelf in my writing room: Bengtson-Jones’ “Drawings of Symbols.” Conte pencil, ink, Conte pastels. Photo by BF Newhall




  1. darrell phelps says:

    Have had the pleasure of knowing and showing with Pat for many years. Her serene presence and glow are always the remarkable takeaway from our every re-meet. Her sculptures, her art, lend a force to the timeless awareness of her vision.

  2. Virginia Miller says:

    I enjoyed your writing on Patricia. Her work is so special to me. I have known Pat since the ’60s at De Anza College in Cupertino. We are old backpacking friends; she and her girls have always had a special place in my heart and life.

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      Having spent some time with Patricia in her studio, I can see why you are so fond of her. She seems a very generous spirit.

  3. Katherine Philipp says:

    Fascinating! We went to an exhibit yesterday at the National Geographic Museum in DC. — examples of ancient pots and headdresses and other artifacts from pre-Columbia tombs. Sadly, many of the tombs had been looted, but they have preserved some great examples. I love this artist’s interest in art of the past.

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