Meeting Ground: Thirty Years of Paintings Done on Site by Robert Benson

 

Waterfront, 1982, watercolor on paper "Meeting Ground: Thirty Years of Paintings Done on Site by Robert Benson," a showcase of watercolor landscapes, will be celebrated at Humboldt State's First Street Gallery April 1 through May 18, 2003.

Benson, a member of the Tsnungwe Tribe of the Trinity River region, has taught art at College of the Redwoods in Eureka for nearly 30 years. A public reception for the artist will be held during Eureka Main Street's Arts Alive! on April 5 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Primarily a watercolor painter, Benson works outdoors at carefully chosen sites, as a personal exploration of the natural world.

Growing up on a small ranch on the Trinity River, he spent much of his time outdoors and was impacted by the cycles of seasonal activity.

Bay with Ripples, 1978, watercolor on paper In what he calls the "re-sacrilezation" of the land, Benson paints plein air landscapes that have a deep history, or that have become sacred to him during his time spent there.

He attempts not to portray the natural world as it appears, but to communicate a sense, or experience, of his surroundings. "When I go to a place to paint I plan to meet natural forces. My paintings are the way these places and forces could possibly look to me," he said.

 

The final product of Benson's paintings are "meeting grounds," dictated by a personal connection with natural surroundings.

Cold Springs: Last Meditation of the Summer, 1999, watercolor on paper    The Grotto, 2002-03, watercolor on paper

"Through my father and my tribe, I am an heir to an ancient belief system that the earth, weather, plant and animal life and all the features of the natural landscape," Benson explains. "Certain places, animals, events become a meeting ground for an encounter with the unknown forces and experiences of great fortune as well as great misfortune."

The exhibition is curated by the students in the Museum and Gallery Practices Program at Humboldt State. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is located at 422 First Street, Eureka. Admission is free. School groups are encouraged to call ahead for tours. For more information, call 443-6363.

Night Walk: Approaching Black's Lake, 1986, acrylic on paper    Summer: Trinity River Bar, 2002-03, watercolor on paper

Photos:
Waterfront, 1982, watercolor on paper
Bay with Ripples, 1978, watercolor on paper
Cold Springs: Last Meditation of the Summer, 1999, watercolor on paper
The Grotto, 2002-03, watercolor on paper
Night Walk: Approaching Black's Lake, 1986, acrylic on paper
Summer: Trinity River Bar, 2002-03, watercolor on paper