A short trip down Payne Road and you will find the home of island artist Ben Wohlberg. Behind the steel gate (meant to only keep out the deer), an oasis of gardens and galleries is found.
If you are unfamiliar with Wohlberg, who has been spending a good portion of the year on the island for more than 40 years, it should be known that he is a true renaissance man. Growing up on a farm in Kansas, earning his green thumb, going on to study art and beginning a career in illustration, Wohlberg has never limited himself. When illustrating did not allow him to completely express his himself as an artist, he began to paint. The pieces express so much about beauty and emotion; one is drawn into the works for lengths of time without interruption, while also feeling a wave of optimism.
In reference to his work, Wohlberg explains the timely demand as “challenging but rewarding.” He paints about nine months of the year, and when he is working, he is very concentrated. With his lovely wife as a right brain to his left, the couple works together to name the pieces. The pair complement each other’s personas in a successful way.
To craft his work, Wohlberg said that every piece evolves during its creation. “All vary. Mostly, first, I lie the canvas flat, add in various grounds, lay things in and see what happens.”
In discussing the ways in which he comes to create the pieces, Wohlberg showed me a quote he came across that he feels captures what he would like others to find in his art. “The overall effect pleases and enthralls, like good jazz, a delicately balanced Calder mobile or abstract painting that really works.”
The quote describes what he is trying to accomplish with his paintings, but it is also an apt description of his home. The main home, which houses many of his works, is an architectural dream with a simple flowing floor plan and lighting that illuminates his favorite works of art. In between the home and the small original cottage that Wohlberg built himself, sit beautiful sprawling gardens that Wohlberg and his wife tend.
To truly appreciate the works of Ben Wohlberg, and enter into his “ever-present, never twice the same, ever-changing,” world, attend his opening on Saturday, Aug. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. located at his home on Payne Road. Look for signs for parking as you make your way down the narrow road. Ben welcomes the public to come view his latest works and tour his gardens.
The art does not remain within the confines of the property. The Wohlbergs can be found weekly at the Saturday’s Farmers’ Market with their homegrown vegetables and floral arrangements. Additionally, as of Saturday, Aug. 8, a reception will be held at the Aurora gallery (above the Post office) from 4 to 7 p.m.