Artists Magazine

Almost Like Falling in Love

When you look at a painting by Mary Bentz Gilkerson, you see a work that holds air and land together in an easy embrace, as easy as a restful pose held by a yoga master. You feel at peace—but you also feel the potential energy within the landscape, energy that flows into you, a frisson of excitement rising.

Connection With the Land

Gilkerson has long been acquainted with beautiful landscapes. A native of Columbia, S.C., she was turned loose at an early age to roam the woods. “That was the beginning of my real love of the natural world, and I’m still happiest when I’m far away from the man-made world,” she says.

Gilkerson spent summers on Edisto Island, off the South Carolina coast—a lush, subtropical world of live oak and tupelo trees. “There wasn’t much to do on the island back then,” she says. “We didn’t even have a grocery store, just a small local market. A lot of what we ate came from going either into the creeks to fish and shrimp or to local farms for vegetables. Some of that longing for

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