Calabi Gallery

Featuring an Eclectic Array of Primarily 20th Century Artwork

Beatrice Benjamin

Beatrice Benjamin (1950- )

Abstraction by Beatrice Benjamin 2014, Watercolor, 21×29

ARTIST STATEMENT : I was born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1950, but my family soon moved to Palm Beach, Florida. I spent endless childhood hours snorkeling in the azure waters beyond the beaches, exploring the multi-colored life that inhabited the coral which used to thrive not far off-shore. The freedom and beauty I experienced then made an indelible mark on me and my work.

My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. For a time I lived in New York with my mother, who was a very charming, outgoing woman. She became close with the famous cartoonist Charles Addams. My three siblings and I adored him for his humor, generosity and kindness. As the first fulltime artist I’d ever known, he made a lasting impression on me.

From New York, I moved with my mother, Odette de Bruniere, to Dallas, Texas. We lived there with my grandmother, who had grown up in the Russian aristocracy and had narrowly escaped the Revolution. Both she and my mother were artistic, and my mother rented a studio and set up a shop where we all worked together, painting and selling porcelain china and being visited by the many friends my gracious mother drew into our lives, among them Harvey Milk and his lover Galen. Those were good times!

When I was about twenty-five, a friend of my mother’s invited my sister, Alexandra, and me to come to Greece. From there I traveled by myself across northern Africa. On my return, I picked up a VW micro-bus, painted it turquoise and a deep shade of blue, and set off with Alex to travel the country, stopping at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, for a while, where I frequently listened enthralled to Allan Ginsberg and other luminaries of the times.

In California, which I have called home for over 40 years, Alex, another friend, and I opened and ran a restaurant in Bernal Heights, in San Francisco, and I worked as a carpenter for a while. I also renovated my own home in Bernal Heights, but sold it and moved to San Anselmo after my son was born. I now live in Woodacre.

In Marin, I continued my career as an illustrator, winning several awards from the Bay Guardian as well as the Marin County Fair, and providing humorous illustrations for books ranging from family advice, by the therapist Sharan Wegscheider-Cruce, to texts on speech recognition by the distinguished computer scientist Nelson Morgan.

My good friend Owen Mould wrote the following:

“Throughout her career, Beatrice has infused her work with warmth and compassion, especially toward her elephant subjects, which evoke a powerful, emotive response. Even her abstracts point toward a strong impulse in favor of the natural world.  Organic shapes explode and dissolve and migrate in non-linear patterns, sometimes with whimsical representational overlays, while preserving the abstract work’s aquatic fluidity. In all of her work, Bea has endeavored to make real the significance of her first name, which means ‘Bringer of Beauty’.”