RACHEL BENTLEY, 1894 – 1991
Rachel began studying watercolor painting in her mid 50’s. Although she only had the sight of one eye, she achieved a very successful artistic style and a long career followed. She continued working until a year before her death in 1991 at the age of 96.
Rachel is known around the world for her numerous watercolors of one room school houses in Northern California and Nevada. In 1954 she exhibited 125 of these paintings at the California State Fair.
During the 50’s and 60’s she painted a number of buildings and historic sites in No. Ca. and Nevada and wrote articles about them for the “Ford Times.”
These paintings are now in the collection of the Ford Times collection of American Art.
The art of Rachel Dowd Bentley and Harriet Priska are sold here at Serenidad Gallery located in Escalante, Utah on Scenic Highway 12 at 170 South 100 West, Escalante, Utah. . Below are their stories.
Harriet Young Washburn Priska July 28, 1943
Harriet recalls drawing on the sidewalk when she was about five with 3 pieces of chalk and realizing that if one spits on the colors they can be mixed into other colors! Harriet experimented with many media over the years, a received a minor in Art from the University of Wyoming in 1965 along with Bachelors in Anthology and Education in 1966.
In the late 1970’s her mother, Winnie Washburn, introduced Harriet to Elizabeth Uttinger in San Francisco and she studied with the Swiss china painting teacher for 5 years. Harriet continued to paint on various forms and shapes of china for a total of 33 years. She became well known for the miniature art of painting on porcelain button blanks that were used in competitions by American Button Collectors and was featured in a book about Studio Button Artists.
When Harriet and her husband Philip moved to Escalante, Utah from Menlo Park, California in 1991, her work took a new turn as she began to portray the 360 degrees of wrap around scenery of southern Utah.
She painted contiguous landscapes on 12” classic shaped porcelain vases, and homes, barns and scenery on tiles and plates. The Priskas opened Serenidad Gallery on Main Street in 1993, and Harriet sold her work there for the next 23 years until the business was closed just before her husband’s death.
In 2003, Harriet became one of the founders of the Everett Ruess Days Art Festival and was the manager for the first 3 years. Now known as the Escalante Canyon’s Art Festival, this successful event draws about 100 Plein Air artists to the area each September. Harriet participates each year, first painting on porcelain and now in watercolors.
In 2010, with her husband’s encouragement and support from her mother, Winnie Washburn, she began to explore painting with watercolors. At the same time, Harriet was working on getting Escalante designated a National Historic District and was interested in portraying the old homes and barns first on china and then with watercolors.
Now Harriet “Paints the Town!” She has produced her second calendar for 2017 showing some of the work she has done over the years. Additionally, she has a line of greeting cards with some of her recent paintings of the historic homes available for sale. Please contact her to find out what is in print.
Harriet prefers to do her work outside where she can capture the essence of the home and surrounding area, and is blessed by the “tears” she receives when she hands the home owner her painting which is a portrait of their life in some special way.
After her husband passed away in January of 2016, work was begun on building a small studio beside their home at 170 S 100 West. It is open by appointment. 435-826-4720. Harriet is available to do commission work and welcomes the opportunity to turn back the clock and recall the memories of family homes that were so lovingly created and cared for in this challenging remote part of South Central Utah. The gallery also offers a small range of western antiques, older Navajo jewelry plus local petrified wood and Utah rocks such as Moqui Marbles.
Harriet also teaches the course “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain.” Her greatest success was seeing her own mother, Winnie Washburn, who had supported Harriet’s artistic endeavors over the years, finally “get it!” She took the class from Harriet in the spring of 2016. Winnie had worked at many media through our her life time and when “the light went on” it was very gratifying to see her gain a new level of perception just weeks before she died at the age of 98 1/2!
Harriet welcomes visitors to her new studio which features the watercolors of Rachel Bentley who painted historic schools, homes and buildings in Northern California and Gold Rush Nevada. Currently there are about 25 paintings available for sale, and Harriet is happy to talk to anyone about Rachel’s work and life.
Also featuring Western antiques, Navajo jewelry and rugs, plus Utah Rocks including petrified wood and Moqui marbles