About the Artist

Pat Berger is an artist who perceives light in a tactile, sensitive and probing manner. To my eye, her uncanny landscapes represent a cross between the Hudson River mannerism of epic observation, and an organic western American painting style which intertwines the natural wild randomness of forms. In her monumental acrylic paintings it seems as if everything in nature is placed where it might belong as if sorted according to a divinely pre-determine organization.

Unlike impressionist landscapists who diffused form in favor of atmospheric illusions, or Cezanne, who structured the accidents of nature in a web of implied geometry, Pat Berger appears capable of painting what is actually there, guided by an unfailing eye for detail and without any prescription for obvious plastic solutions. Even her small format landscapes are broad representations of large ambitious events – fire, mist, fog, times of day, and the accidental surprising inter-relations between trees, leaves, streams, vast fields and tiny branches, and the manner in which light hews their appearances onto canvas as her personal reality, almost as a prayer.

There is a musical tonality to Pat Berger’s orchestrations of shades of chromatic hues and values; her grading of darkness to light, and vice verso, in a subtle performance of masterful refinement that speaks in whispers and sighs rather than cries and shouts. Style here is secondary to content. Berger’s endgame, magically fusing authenticity to her pigment by representing natural phenomena “as it is”, so to speak, needs no flashy brushwork to touch the heart of the viewer. It sparks trust in the observer that her communion with her subject is at once mystical yet genuine. Berger records the natural world as she sees it, and the feelings follow suite.

~ Arthur Secunda

Pat Berger

THE EARLY YEARS: Born in New York, NY, 1929

My parents and I (an only child) lived in Manhattan, then Scarsdale. My mother was a professional singer and my father was in textiles. Circumstances took us to Los Angeles when I was 10 yrs old. My father became the West Coast Representative of Everfast Fabrics, my mother gave up her singing career and I overcame asthma once we were out of New York.

EDUCATION: After attending John Burroughs Junior High, I graduated from Fairfax High School. I had always been interested in journalism-editor of the school paper, etc, and thought I would be Brenda Starr, girl reporter. However, that changed, when a doctor family friend, relocating to Los Angeles, stayed with us for some months. He was interested in art and taking lessons from an artist, Burr Singer. He took me with him one night a week and that was my introduction into the art world. I got together a portfolio and was accepted at Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, which at that time in the ’40s was practically all male oriented with students there on the GI Bill of Rights.

MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND ART: I married at age 18 after a year at Art Center. Deciding to go into Fine Arts instead of Commercial I took private lessons for a year with William Earl Singer.

My sons were born in 1950 and 1953. I continued to paint at home, but took classes through Adult Ed., working from the model and as a plein air painter. I later taught art classes for children at my home. Among my students were Ray Bradbury’s daughters.

COMMUNITY INVOVEMENT AND FURTHER ART TRAINING: I became very involved in the art community. While my sons were growing up I was artist in residence at Brandeis Institute for 6 years in Simi Valley, CA (my sons were campers in exchange for my working there). I taught college students who came from all parts of the country on scholarships to learn about Judaism, and the art program was an integral part of their experience. At that time, there were many notable artists who would come to Brandeis. I was invited to become a member of the Arts Council at the Westside Jewish Community Center and later became the Chairman. It was one of the most important places for art and artists in the 50’s, and 60’s when galleries were not as numerous in Los Angeles.

I also became involved with the Westwood Art Association, serving on the board and later as president; then with the National Watercolor Society, on the board and as president.

I continued studying painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture at UCLA amassing many credits. I obtained a lifetime teaching credential for teaching Art in Adult Education through the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1970.

EARLY EXHIBITS: I had already been in many juried and invitational exhibits. My first solo exhibit was at Galerie Nico in Venice, CA in 1959. Later spotted in an art class by Paul Gherchik, co-director of Heritage Gallery with Benjamin Horowitz, I was invited to become part of that gallery’s stable of artists. My first solo show there was 1964 and led to a long term relationship.

DIVORCE AND MY SECOND LIFE: I divorced in 1971 after 23 years.

I had my teaching credential and taught art classes for the next 33 years. At Central Adult High School, I worked with students 18 and over, many, from third world countries, wanting to get their high school diplomas. We did murals (the first one on the Olympics in Los Angeles) at the school. Two of the students received scholarships. I also worked with the Music Center Educational Program as laison with the school district to bring the performing arts into the schools. The last 17 years were spent teaching in the older adult program, my students being 60 to 95. They were all very rewarding years. I received nominations as Outstanding Teacher of the Year two different years.

Other involvements were working with Millard Sheets for several years doing murals with him for Home Savings and Loan Association both in San Francisco and in his studio in Claremont. I also spent two years as the co-ordinator for the Arts Unlimited Annual Event at the Downey Art Museum. That involved a gigantic outdoor art exhibit and a program of events scheduled throughout the day.

ACTIVISM AND NEW DIRECTIONS: I remarried in 1978. We did quite a bit of traveling which became the inspiration for much of my art work. A residency at The Julia and David White Artists’Colony in Costa Rica in the late 80’s was also a turning point.

In 1984 I became involved with the homeless and spent the next 5 years on and around skid row doing a series of paintings, called “No Place To Go” as a consciousness raising statement. It evolved into many collaborative projects. I received a Brody Arts Fund Community Foundation Grant and my work traveled to many different places. At the openings, I gave lectures or appeared on panels concerning issues of homelessness. Twelve of the paintings were purchased for the permanent collection of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Buffalo, New York. Others are in collections of Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, and the West Collection at University of Minneapolis Law School, Minnesota.

Other involvements have included being Vice President of LA Artcore for a number of years, as well as a member of the Arts Council of University of Judaism; Watercolor USA Honor Society, and more recently, the Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California.

My husband died in 1995.

THE ARIZONA YEARS: A new relationship in recent years has led to dividing my time between Los Angeles and Phoenix where I maintain a second studio. I have become established in the Art Community and have exhibited with the Marshall Gallery in Scottsdale, and the Costello/Childs Contemporary in Phoenix.

In 2006, my work was included in an exhibition at the West Valley Art Museum called “Arizona Treasures” and a solo exhibit at the same museum December 2008 – February 2009. That was followed by another solo exhibit at the Sylvia Plotkin Judaica Museum in March of 2009 in Paradise Valley, AZ.

In my latest works of trees and branches I seemed to have reached an emotional connection that I feel. The tree grows and blossoms as do we. It expands and then ages – nature and human life again coming together. I hope the journey continues for awhile longer.

Pat Berger • 2648 Anchor Ave. • Los Angeles, CA 90064 • (310) 838-8346

artwork ©Pat Berger all rights reserved