Former resident showcasing art at Rosehill

Jul 11, 2018
Photo by: Ian Davis-Leonard Bob Bengtsson, a former Mukilteo resident, has art on display at the Rosehill Community Center. The exhibit began on July 2 and runs through Sept. 10.

The city of Mukilteo is sponsoring an exhibit of fine art by former Mukilteo and Greenback, WA resident Bob Bengtsson, at the Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave. in Mukilteo. The exhibit began on July 2 and will run through Sept. 10.

Six years of painting at New York’s Art Students League (1961-67) shaped Bengtsson’s abstract creative spirit that resulted in a 50-year treasure trove of abstract and expressionist paintings as well as pastels and sketches. Bengtsson graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1957 where he studied Industrial Design. He was the first Director of Design for Amtrak and finished his career path at Boeing’s Concept Center in 2010.

He lived in Mukilteo for over 30 years and had studios here and on Whidbey Island. When commenting on his work, Bengtsson said, “The shapes I see in nature trigger my imagination and provide images that I use in abstract paintings.” Even though he worked with computer manipulations and other media, he added, “I find painting to be the most liberating form of expression for me, releasing innermost thoughts that don’t find expression in other graphic arts.”

Bengtsson’s artwork varied as he experimented with texture and ways of working with wet acrylics. Whether wall-size canvases or notebook-sized pen and ink sketches, his work has a signature distinctly his own. His abstracts have strokes of light colors that reflect his fascination with light and shadows.

Over the decades, Bengtsson’s interests in pastels continued to grow. He had one-man shows in Seattle, Everett, and Mukilteo. In 1998, he was invited to have a one-man show in La Charite-sur-Loire, France. In 2003, his pastel sketch of Holmes Harbor won first prize in the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival juried exhibit. He also had a one-man show that year at the Elliot Pointe Gallery in Mukilteo. His pastels and sketches hung at the Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island, and he won the poster contest there for the Loganberry Festival. He also supported the Greenback community as an Artist in Action. He continued to enter artwork in Seattle area shows as well as Northwest Pastel Society competitions. For five years, he was also a Volunteer Artist in Residence for the Edmonds School District.

Bengtsson left behind a thousand or more images that range from cartoon sketches to pastels of the places he lived and visited.

“Bob captured the wetlands, the beach, the farm and Central Whidbey as no other artist has ever done,” said Art Herrera, Catering Manager of Front Street Grill in Coupeville, WA. “His attention to forms as art reflects his connection to industrial design and makes us see our island differently.”

A retrospective of his work as it related to the theatre was held at the Whidbey Island Center for Arts in Langley, WA, following his death in 2011.

A French reporter said Bengtsson fell under the charm of La Charite-sur-Loire so he drew many pictures of that city. In turn, the reporter said that French visitors to Bengtsson’s exhibit were charmed by the artist. Visitors to the Rosehill exhibit in Mukilteo this summer are sure to be charmed by his varied artwork as well.

There will also be a opening reception on Thursday, July 12 from 5 to 8 p.m.

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