robert benjamin - landscape painter
Robert L. Benjamin, Southwestern landscape artist, is known for the realistic elements and the epic scope of his compositions, which are depictions of actual scenes in New Mexico. Bob’s distinctive style includes a randomness of natural forms and a strong sense of place. The subject for his paintings are at once topographical, varied, and diverse. He has lived in New Mexico since 1971.
Spending his formative years in northeastern Ohio, Bob received encouragement and a strong interest in the visual arts at an early age from his mother, executing his first oil painting at the age of ten. He won several state and national awards for commercial design while still in high school, including a journalism award for editorial cartooning from Kent State University. Upon graduation from Alliance High School he was accepted by the Ivy School of Professional Art, Pittsburgh. After several years of study, during which Bob took advantage of the many cultural amenities of Pittsburgh, he began to visualize a more expansive natural setting as inspiration for his art, and began to take a serious look at the Southwest.
Arriving in New Mexico Bob worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, continuing to develop his stylistic approach. He worked briefly in a frame shop, receiving framing services in lieu of pay. In 1976, Bob began working under the direction of Master Printer Ben Adams, Western Graphics Lithography Studio, Albuquerque. He assisted many notable artists in preparing drawings for printing. Simultaneously he printed a number of his own lithographs, selling entire editions of contemporary Southwestern hand-pulled original prints to American Designs, Ltd., a national distributor. Bob’s fine art prints sold widely throughout the United States and Europe.
Many of Bob Benjamin’s lithographs are in permanent collections of museums. A national traveling exhibit, “Lithography in New Mexico, “ produced by the Museum of New Mexico, featured one of his prints. The New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe; the Roswell, New Mexico, Museum and Art Center; and the Navajo Tribal Museum, Window Rock, Arizona, all have Bob’s lithographs in their permanent collections. He is also represented in the collections of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; the University of New Mexico Medical Center Cancer Research and Treatment Facility, Albuquerque; the Smithsonian Institution National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington D.C.; The Museum of Natural History, Albuquerque; and other public and private collections.
Although benefiting while working at Western Graphics from contact with such artist luminaries as Charles Lovato, Jerry Ingram, R.C. Gorman, Travis Whitfield, Russell Hamilton, Earl Biss and others, Bob became restless to broaden his creative horizons and began studying another form of multiple originals: bronze sculpture. Again he sought guidance from the experts, studying casting techniques with art/caster A.J. Keith
and foundry director Tommy Hicks, of Shidoni Art Foundry, Santa Fe. In January 1980, Bob and a partner opened Southwest Bronze, a sculpture foundry and artist contract studio, in downtown Albuquerque. Numerous artists published sculpture editions under Bob’s guidance. He also taught bronze sculpture casting and mold-making techniques, and was known for generously sharing information and his knowledge as an art publisher.
Ever restless to gain new experience and knowledge, Bob began studying steel sculpture fabrication at the University of New Mexico with sculptor David Anderson. After making the determination that Southwest Bronze had fulfilled its mission, in 1986, he donated the foundry to the Institute of American Indian Art, in Santa Fe. He found himself involved in many design projects, designing children’s wear for an international market, working as an art director for several Albuquerque advertising agencies, and in 1992, attending computer classes at the University of New Mexico to further hone his illustration and design skills. At this time, he also designed silver jewelry still in production and garnered several commercial art awards.
In 1995, Bob turned to landscape painting full-time, working with impressionist landscape painter Les Hawks. He traveled throughout New Mexico for artistic inspiration from the beauty of its land forms and the excitement of its dramatic lighting. In 1998, New Mexico Magazine invited Bob to be the 2001 Distinguished Calendar Artist for their millennium issue, publishing twelve of his pastels. His expression and artistic vision of the innate beauty of the New Mexico landscape continue to be celebrated to this day.
As a landscape painter, New Mexico’s incredibly diverse and magnificently beautiful terrain, skies and forests afford me a myriad of subjects to share. My greatest joy is when a viewer remarks, “I know where that is” or “I have been there”. Artists paint for others. I love New Mexico.