Since the early 1980’s my main theme has been the exploration and depiction of light. I began with landscape as a foil. Gradually, buildings started to enter the compositions, at first far away and tiny, then closer and larger, until the buildings became the main focus and the landscape shrank. Finally, I concentrated on details of the buildings and the objects within them. Always, however, the structures and objects are stage sets for light with its transformative power and ability to affect emotions. I rarely put figures in my paintings, as I find that they tend to take over; I prefer to let light and shadow imply the narrative and carry the emotional weight. In addition to the dearth of human figures, I also choose to paint quite ordinary scenes, and for the same reason: by focusing on the easily ignorable architectural detail, washbasin, household appliance, piece of furniture, or houseplant, I like to explore how a fall of light can turn a humble item into something poignant and worthy of lasting attention.

I don’t think of myself as a realist painter in the currently accepted sense. I work from photographs, which are themselves abstractions – one step removed from reality. I travel further into abstraction by removing details, shifting things around, changing perspective, exaggerating the quality, color, and direction of light, investing the shadows with greater emotional intensity. The paintings wander far afield of straightforward observations of reality, and instead become my own emotional response to the places and objects depicted.

I have worked for many years in pastels, both chalk and oil. At the beginning of 2008 I laid pastels aside and began working in oil paint. Haven’t looked back. While I continue to love the look and feel of pastels, they presented problems: with chalks it was the dust, with oil pastels it was finding a durable and easy-to-use varnish. Now I’m at home with oil paint, and finally understand why it is the granddaddy of all art mediums.

SOLO
EXHIBITIONS

2017
2015
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
 
2006
2005
 
2004
 
2003
2002
 
 
2001
2000
 
1999
 
 
 
1998
 
1997
 
1996
 
1995
 
1994
 
1993
 
1992
 
1991
 
1990
 
1989
 
1988
 
1987
1986

Woodside Braseth Gallery, Seattle, WA
Jansen Art Center, Lynden, WA
“Odyssey” Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA
Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA
“Sojourn,” Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
“New Paintings,” Sue Greenwood Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
“Introduction: Susan Bennerstrom,” Sue Greenwood Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
“Night and Day: New Paintings,” Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
"Bystander,” Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
“Elements,” Davidson Contemporary, Seattle, WA
“Tent-Interior-Leaf,” Davidson Contemporary, Seattle, WA
Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, WA
“Within,” Davidson Contemporary, Seattle, WA
“Threshold,” Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
“River Bed,” Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
“Beds,” collaboration with poet Suzanne Paola, Museum of Northwest Art, LaConner, WA
Margo Jacobsen Gallery, Portland, OR
“Existing Light, retrospective, Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
J. Cacciola Gallery, New York NY
Margo Jacobsen Gallery, Portland, OR
“From Here to the Horizon: Curator’s View,” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
“Objects and Incidents,” Edward Cain Galleries, Pt. Townsend, WA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Ballyhugh Art & Culture Centre, and County Courthouse Gallery, County Cavan, Ireland
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
J. Cacciola Galleries, New York, NY
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham, WA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Port Angeles Fine Art Center, Port Angeles, WA
Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
Alonso/Sullivan Gallery, Seattle, WA
Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon, WA
Carnegie Art Center, Walla Walla, WA
Alonso/Sullivan Gallery, Seattle, WA
Alonso/Sullivan Gallery, Seattle, WA

 

GROUP
EXHIBITIONS

2016
2015

2015
 
2014
2013
2012
2012
2010
2010
2009
2007
2006
2005
2003
2001
 
 
2000
1999
1998
 
1997
1996
1995
1994
 
1992
 
1990
 
1988
 
 
1987
 
 
1985

“JUST WOMEN,” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
“A Couple of Cameras: Photographs by Susan Bennerstrom & David Scherrer, Salon Refu, Olympia, WA
“A Curatorial Perspective: Selections From the Permanent Collection,”
Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
“Fluid,” Sue Greenwood Fine Art, Laguna Beach, CA
“Structures” from the permanent collection, Museum of NW Art, LaConner WA
“Tieton 10 x 10” Tieton, WA
“Art About Agriculture,” Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
“Small Is Big: Tieton 10x10” Tieton, WA
“Show of Hands: Women Artists of the Northwest,” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
Small Works Show, Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA
“Constructed Worlds: Re-Visions of Reality,” Loveland Museum, Loveland, Colorado
Pt. Angeles Fine Art Center 20th Anniversary Exhibition, Pt. Angeles, WA
“Images from North Mayo,” Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, Ireland
“Still Life Today,” Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA
“Small Works by Gallery Artists,” Margo Jacobsen Gallery, Portland OR
“Small Works,” Lucia Douglas Gallery, Bellingham, WA
“Views of Nature: A Landscape Invitational,” M. Jacobsen Gallery, Portland, OR
“Bennerstrom/Cole/James/Wood” Lucia Douglas Gallery, Bellingham
Annual Realism Invitational” Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
“Betty Bowen Award 20th Anniversary Exhibition, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, WA
“True Art” Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
“Shaped by the Land” Museum of Northwest Art, LaConner, WA
“Art for the People” Henry Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle
“Interiors” Chase Gallery at City Hall, Spokane, WA
“Realism ‘94” Fletcher Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
“The Betty Bowen Legacy” Security Pacific Gallery, Seattle, WA
2003, 2001, 1997, 1991 PONCHO Invitational, WA State Convention Center, Seattle, WA
“Three Bellingham Artists: Tom Wood, Susan Bennerstrom, John Cole”
Mercer Island Art Center, Mercer Island, WA
“Art in Nature” Pacific Art Center, Seattle, WA
“Landscapes” Alonso/Sullivan Gallery, Seattle, WA
“Pastels: Landscapes from the Chalk Circle” Lisa Harris, Gallery, Seattle
“Northwest Landscapes: Bennerstrom, Cole, Wood” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
“Bennerstrom, Cole, Wood, Perlin” Hartness-Schoos Gallery, Seattle
1989, 87, 85 Bellevue Art Museum Annual Juried Exhibition, Bellevue, WA
“Landscape: John Cole and Susan Bennerstrom” Chrysalis Gallery, Bellingham, WA
“Pastel Drawings: Susan Bennerstrom and Thomas Wood” Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
1993, 88, 87, 84, 83, 82, 81 Northwest International Art Competition, Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

 

EDUCATION

Western Washington University, 1967-1970, 1997

 

CURATING / OTHER

2015
1999

Set design for Skagit Valley Opera production of Hansel and Gretel
Curated “From Here to the Horizon: Artists of the Rural Landscape” Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham, WA

 

TEACHING

Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, WA, 2007
San Juan Center for Art and Nature, Westcott Bay Institute,
      San Juan Island, WA, 2006, 2003
Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA, 2000 - present
Ballyhugh Art & Culture Centre, County Cavan, Ireland, 2000, 1997
LaConner Art Workshops, LaConner, WA, 2000 - present
Coupeville Arts Center, Coupeville, WA, 2005, 2000
Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, 2004 (Master Artist), 1991-1999
School of Visual Concepts, Seattle, 1998
Knockadoon Centre, County Cork, Ireland, 1997

 

COLLECTIONS

Precept Wines, Seattle, WA
Washington State Art Consortium
Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA
Museum of Northwest Art
Ballinglen Art Foundation, Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham, WA
Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA
Wilson Library, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon, WA
Microsoft
Verizon Wireless
Davis Wright Tremaine
Riverside School District, WA
Marysville School District, WA
Yakima School District, WA
Washington State Patrol, Spokane, WA

 

AWARDS

2010, ’98, ’92
2004
2004, ’07
 
1997
1995
1994
1988
1987
1987
1988, ’86
1983

Artist Trust GAP Award, Seattle
Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award
Ballinglen Foundation Fellowship (painting residency),
Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Corporate Council for the Arts, Seattle, Annual Commemorative Poster
Mayor’s Art Award, Bellingham, WA
METRO Arts Program, Art/Poetry Bus Project, Seattle, WA
Third Annual Northwest Poets and Artists Calendar
Betty Bowen Special Recognition Award, Seattle Art Museum
Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Fair Juried Exhibition, First Place Award, Drawing
Washington State Arts Commission Art in Public Places program
Northwest International Art Competition, Second place award

 

PUBLICATIONS
& REVIEWS

Darkness Sticks to Everything: Collected and New Poems, by Tom Hennen (cover art), 2013, Copper Canyon Press
Michael Upchurch, “You’ll see emptiness inhabited in Susan Bennerstrom’s captivating interiors” (review), Seattle Times, Nov. 18, 2010
Kiera Scholten, “Susan Bennerstrom,” ArtWorks Magazine, Summer 2010
Silencing the Self Across Cultures: Depression and Gender in the Social World, ed. by Dana Jack and Alisha Ali (cover art), 2010, Oxford Univ. Press
Thresh & Hold by Veronica Patterson (cover art), pub. Big Pencil Press, 2009
What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems by Ruth Stone (cover art), pub. Copper Canyon Press, 2008
Plowed Under: Agriculture and Environment in the Palouse by Andrew P.Duffin (cover art), pub. by University of Washington Press, 2007
The Disheveled Bed: Poems by Andrea Carter Brown (cover art), pub. by CavanKerry Press, 2006
Christina Twu (review), Seattle Weekly, Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2005
“Witness, II,” collaboration with poet Suzanne Paola, Indiana Review, vol. 27, no. 1, Summer 2005
Virginia Campbell, “Less Is More: Susan Bennerstrom’s unusually composed pastel interiors are empty of clutter and full of mood,” Southwest Art Magazine, April, 2005
“Susan Bennerstrom” (review), Andrew Engelson, Seattle Weekly, May 5-11, 2004
Messages from Washington State, pub. M.J. Murdock charitable Trust, 2003
100 Artists of the West Coast, by Douglas Bullis, pub. Schiffer Books, 2003
Susan Bennerstrom: Existing Light, catalog for retrospective, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, essay by Deloris Tarzan Ament, 2002
Judy Wagonfeld, “Vistas of Light: Color shimmers in the paintings of Bellingham artist Susan Bennerstrom,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 12, 2002
Susan Bennerstrom: Oil Pastel Paintings on Panel, catalog, Terrence Rogers Fine Art, Santa Monica, CA, Oct. 2002
Deloris Tarzan Ament, “The Transformative Power of Light: Susan Bennerstrom Exhibits at Davidson Galleries and Whatcom Museum,” Art Access Magazine, November, 2002
Kie Relyea, “Between Acts: Paintings Ask ‘What’s Next?’” Bellingham Herald, August 24, 2002
The Pacific Northwest Landscape: A Painted History, edited by Kitty Harmon, Introduction by Jonathan Raban, pub. By Sasquatch Books, 2001
Lyn Smallwood,”A Brush With Nature: Seven Landscape Artists,” Washington Journey (AAA magazine), Jan.-Feb., 2001
“The Best Books of 2000,” Los Angeles Times Book Review Section, Dec. 3, 2000
Regina Hackett, “Move the Coffee and Make Room for the Art,” (Book review), Seattle P-I, Nov. 27, 2000
Kie Relyea, “Shadow and Light: Artist’s Drawings suggest More Than Meets the Eye,” Bellingham Herald, Nov. 11, 2000
Susan Bennerstrom (monograph), essays by Rod Slemmons, Sarah Clark-Langager, Robin Updike, published by Davidson Galleries and
University of Washington Press, 2000
Wesley Pulkka, “Contemporary Realism: A New Twist on Tradition,” Southwest Art, July 1999
“Artists to Watch: Susan Bennerstrom…” Southwest Art, July 1999
Catalog for Realism Invitational, Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, essay by Peter Frank, June 12 – July 31, 1999
Margaret Bikman, “Art’s Going to the Country: Exhibit Focuses on Rural Landscapes, Themes,” Bellingham Herald April 23, 1999
Robin Updike, “Shows Worth a Close Look,” (review) Seattle Times, 4/8/99
Robin Updike, “Landscapes by Lottery – It Keeps the Growing Crowd of Buyers In Line for Bellingham Artist’s Work,” Seattle Times, May 27, 1998
“Exhibition of Pastels by American Artist Susan Bennerstrom,” The Anglo-Celt, Cavan, Ireland, Oct. 9, 1997
Whatcom Places, intro. By Ivan Doig, Whatcom Land Trust, pub. 1997
Deloris Tarzan Ament, (review) Seattle Sidewalk, April 18, 1997
Ted Lundberg, “Susan Bennerstrom: Pastels,” Preview magazine, Apr/May 1996
“Creativity in Bloom,” (review) Seattle Times, April 12, 1996
Sheila Farr, “Retinal Pleasures,” (review) Seattle Weekly, April 17, 1996
Barbara Straker James, “Shaped by the Land,” Museum of Northwest Art News, Summer, 1996
Carmi Weingrod, “Art by Census: Should People Get Exactly What They Ask For?” American Artist, October 1995
Gussie Fauntleroy, “Travelling to the Edge of Expectation,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, August 25, 1995
Bruce Barcott, “Art Your Way,” Seattle Weekly, April 26, 1995
Sheila Farr, “America’s Most Wanted,” Bellingham Herald, April 22, 1995
The Bellingham Review, (reproductions), vol. 17, nos. 1 & 2, 1994
Willow Springs, (reproductions), no. 34, Summer 1994
Nature Through Her Eyes: Art and Literature by Women, ed. Mary Bemis and Belinda Recio, pub. The Nature Company, 1994
Sheila Farr, “Light on the Landscape,” (review) Bellingham Herald, July 23, 1994
“Susan Bennerstrom, Artist of the Ominous,” The World and I magazine, Wash., D.C., vol. 9, no.1, January 1994
Deloris Tarzan Ament, (review), Seattle Times April 26, 1993
Candelora Versace, “Brooding Hills, Sunny Shores: A Study in Contradictions,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, August 7, 1992
Jessica Maxwell, “Palouse Pentimento,” Pacific Northwest magazine, April 1992
Russ Whiting, “Bennerstrom Moves at Her Own Pace,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, August 9, 1991
Karen Matheison, (review), Seattle Times, March 7, 1991
John Marshall, “Visions of Success,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 3, 1991
Ann Douglas After, (book cover), Breitenbush Books, Portland OR, 1990
Artweek, (review), January 14, 1989
John Harris, “Artist Tries Change of Pace,” Bellingham Herald, January 10, 1989

REPRESENTATION

Woodside Braseth Gallery, Seattle, WA woodsidebrasethgallery.com
Sue Greenwood Fine Art, Laguna Beach, CA suegreenwoodfineart.com

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Susan Bennerstrom Homepage