• Kathabela Wilson and Jennifer Bentson with the child of the 400 year old oak planted from one of its acorns on the Caltech campus! Delmy Emerson, Caltech’s landscape and facilities director, planted the acorn and nurtured the baby tree that’s being groomed to take over if anything happens to its mother (Photo - Rick Wilson).

      Kathabela Wilson and Jennifer Bentson with the child of the 400 year old oak planted from one of its acorns on the Caltech campus!
      Delmy Emerson, Caltech’s landscape and facilities director, planted the acorn and nurtured the baby tree that’s being groomed to take over if anything happens to its mother (Photo – Rick Wilson).

      I am sending this fascinating conversation, with love for the Oak Trees, from our visit to Shanghai, China. The wide avenues here are lined with many varieties of trees, in rich plantings to inspire and clear the air. Jennifer, in Pasadena, has celebrated the long-living and strong oaks that surround us with her many paintings created in intimate contact with them, in their presence. We are fortunate to have these amazing resilient trees to nourish our lives, and to have her to preserve their beauty at the height of the flourishing. I am looking forward to coming home to her Oak Tree Tea and to lead our Poets on Site in a performance of poems on the Caltech 400 year old Engelmann oak on our campus, accompanied by Rick Wilson on flute.

      Jennifer and I were happy to be able to have this conversation just before I left for China.

      ~ Kathabela Wilson

      Jennifer Bentson (Photo - fineartamerica.com).

      Jennifer Bentson (Photo – fineartamerica.com).

      An interview with Jennifer Bentson, artist to the oaks.

      By Kathabela Wilson

      What a beautiful title you give yourself, Jennifer, “Artist to the Oaks” almost as if you are their handmaiden, and in a sense you are, with your beautiful portraits of them, how did this begin?

      I began painting oak trees at about the same time I started taking workshops in figure drawing. The two seemed to blend together in my mind as I walked through the local gardens and looked up at the Coastal Oak tree limbs. It was just that simple, limbs both human and oak were fascinating to me.

      Busch Gardens Oaks by Jennifer Bentson.

      Busch Gardens Oaks by Jennifer Bentson.

      How close do you feel to the oaks, this seems very personal? Definitely more than an artistic project, which is very special in itself.

      The first oak of my muse was in Descanso Gardens. I stretched out under the oak and looked skyward at the limbs crossing overhead. Then I returned later and the oak tree had been chopped down and mulch covered the place where that oak once lived. I felt like I had lost a friend. Losing that oak reminded me of the loss of my business by legislation, and in the same year the loss of my dear husband.

      My being desired purpose and on the surface, painting the significant oaks in my community was a way to preserve them and celebrate them while they are alive.

      As an artist who was locked inside of a business person, this was my journey to myself.

      Oaks - bumped up Jennifer Bentson.

      Oaks – bumped up Jennifer Bentson.

      What is special about these oaks of Pasadena, and surrounding areas?

      The oak tree is a common, very common tree. Just like we are all humans, but each one of us and each tree has a unique set of angles, structure and spirit. I believe that trees have spirit. That they are part of the collective unconsciousness. I feel solace when I am under an oak tree. My paintings are so much better when I paint them on the spot.

      Jennifer Bentson (Photo - jenniferbentson.com).

      Jennifer Bentson (Photo – jenniferbentson.com).

      What is the process of finding and creating this wonderful relationship?

      My journey through Pasadena to find and paint the significant oaks has been such a pleasure. I have been met with fabulous people who share a love of their oaks and community.

      Oak Tree Tea
      Created by artist Jennifer Bentson

      An exhibition of art & stories in honor of the 400-Year Old Engelmann Oak at Caltech as well as other oak trees that have shaped Pasadena and the surrounding community. Each oak tree has a story to tell and through Jennifer’s paintings and the people she has met on this journey the community of Pasadena and their significant oaks will be enjoyed.

      > Light refreshments will be served.
      > This event is free. Click here to RSVP.

      Sat., June 11, 2016*
       3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
       Dabney Hall, Caltech

      ________________________________________________________
      *Hosted by Caltech and made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division.


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      Contributor

        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

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      Comments

      1. siggiofmaine says:

        Loved reading about Jennifer Bentson’s love of Oaks. Trees have such wonderful spirits and tho I don’t paint just one species of trees, I record many trees on my travels in Maine and elsewhere. It is heart breaking to see where a tree flourished for decades and then chopped down in the name of “progress”.

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