Among the Bay Area’s rich plein air painting scene, Benicia artist Jerrold Turner stands out for his colors and style. But a few years ago Turner wanted to go to new places with his art. Rather than venture outdoors, he decided to work indoors, in his home studio, gravitating more toward fantasy and surrealism. His current oil paintings are humorous, whimsical and usually a commentary on social or political issues, said his long-time friend and fellow Benicia artist Nikki Basch-Davis. Of his new work, Turner said, “I’m thinking of social-political work that is more consistent with the mood of the community of protest.” He added that after many years of landscape painting he found himself reaching for more content in the work as well as imagery.
As the featured artist in March for Gallery 621, Turner will show new pieces he’s created in his Benicia studio. The show, called One Small Step for Man…, will also feature some altered landscapes and a few of his plein air pieces, too. At age 84, Turner is not finished exploring new creative avenues, and growing as an artist. “He says to me often that art and painting make his life. It’s so true that at this age you need to maintain a passion for something that keeps the life force going,” said Basch-Davis.
With a strong background in science, Turner is also a structural engineer who graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS and MS degree in engineering. He had his own engineering business for more than 40 years while he also pursued his painting. “I found that I had no conflict with the right brain and left brain elements. They seem to fit nicely for me for some reason. I have the same love for science that I do for art,” he said. As an artist, he is primarily self-taught. For years he was part of The Outsiders, a group of eight painters with their own distinctive style. He has also taught workshops and mentored many artists. “He’s an old-timer and well loved by many,” Basch-Davis said. A public reception for Turner’s show takes place 5-7pm, Saturday, March 11 at Gallery 621, 309 First St.