Showcasing Benita Cole Studio




I am an artist who has lived nine lives. I have revelled in art since I was a small child.   My father said, "You can't make a living as an artist; you will starve."  Dutifully, I  completed a teaching degree but I was 22 years old and I felt like I knew less than nothing about art after over a decade of work.  

I grew up in a world of both excess and deprivation.  I grew up on a dairy farm in NJ with 7 siblings, but as grandmama's namesake I went to NYC and Canada with her and learned to appreciate the power of her wealth.  She gave me a rich renaissance education at a prestigious boarding school.  Because of this I saw art and science as intimate friends, not a fathomless dichotomy.  My first oil painting was completed at 11 and went on to earn a BA in Fine Arts and Education. Following college I  left home to pursue a calling to paint rather than teach.  I spent 5 years living/commuting between NYC and NJ going to Arts Students League, studying with and working for a portrait artist, showing in galleries and working as a graphic designer.  I also owned a suburban art gallery.  Although I had meteoric success I found cocaine while working on Madison Avenue and my life imploded.  This precipitated a move to Washington state for sobriety and a stable career that would provide for my son.   In 1974, I arrived in Yakima, WA it was not a friendly place for artists, so I studied accounting and computers and painted as a hobby.  I was able to become a CPA and ultimately the financial director for a regional university.  While commuting daily through the Yakima river canyon I found the inspiration to begin painting large geological landscapes and discovered an art community in Ellensburg that helped me flourish once again. 

After a terminal cancer diagnosis, followed by a protracted recovery, a bankruptcy and divorce, I moved to Seattle and began quilting with diminished vision and continuing health problems. I soon accepted a job with a tribe in rural Alaska where I regained my health and stamina.  When I returned, I moved near Portland, Oregon and resumed painting but found oil paint too abrasive on my lungs. I soon had cataract surgery and I have spent the last 5 years perfecting my acrylic painting.  About 18 months ago I had my last chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a second cancer and have been painting with renewed urgency  I currently paint about 12 hours a day every day and am represented by several regional galleries.  I show in local wine tasting  rooms and other select locations.  I am a lifelong learner and am currently completing the Art2Life Creative Visionary Program.