Rhythms and Rhymes in Steel

Famed sculptor Fletcher Benton reveals the sounds, smells and secrets of his SF studio
Rhythms and Rhymes in Steel
Fletcher Benton's San Francisco studio interior.
(photo: courtesy Fletcher Benton Studio)

Unlike some artists, Fletcher Benton has always been business-like. At age 14, he says, he was already doing well as a sign painter.

Benton will show the world his secrets for success in 'Fletcher Benton: The Artist's Studio,' August 16 through December 6 at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara. A companion display, 'Fletcher Benton: In Motion,' focuses on his kinetic work from the 1960s and '70s. The exhibit includes three monumental sculptures.

The first exhibit recreates his San Francisco studio through photo murals, tools, his Constructivist sculptures—even the sounds, smells, and sparks of a working studio. "Most people really don't know how sculpture happens," Benton says.

"I want to get children turned on to what makes a piece of sculpture," Benton says of the studio exhibit, which was organized by Katy Eilerston for the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.

Anyone who appreciates beautifully proportioned design, objects that are abstract but somehow seem alive, will appreciate Benton's quirky, often humorous sculptures. "There's a quality to his work that is very musical and rhythmic," Eilerston says.

The opening reception is 7 p.m. September 26, and Benton will answer questions at 7 p.m. October 24.

And don't just look at the sculpture. Look at the 'negative space' around it, Benton advises, citing a lesson he learned painting signs.

"There's nothing worse than seeing a sign where the letters are improperly spaced," he says, adding, " You can't mathematically figure it out. You have to do it visually. It's a sense of rightness."

For more about the Benton exhibits, click here.