Saratoga artist celebrates her 70th birthday with a benefit exhibit

Artist Bonnie Stone moved to the Bay Area in 1967 with her young child and pediatrician husband in tow. There were anti-war protests going on across the country and she’d moved to beating heart of it all.

When another young woman called to ask whether Stone would come throw herself on the state Capitol building in protest with the rest of them, she declined.

“I said no, instead I’m going to sell some paintings to raise the money to buy the coffee and donuts for those who are going to throw their bodies on the steps of the Capitol,” she says with a laugh.

In “Something Fishy”, artist Bonnie Stone mixes Jewish with Japanese culture.

In 1972, Stone used her artwork to support the campaign of Wilson Riles, who would become the first black man elected to statewide office in California. Stone held an auction in which she sold off some of her highly detailed watercolors to raise funds for the campaign.

Beginning April 22, Stone will once again sell her works for a good cause. Everything on display in her exhibit “Three Score and Ten: A Narrative Voice” at the Addison-Penzak JCC will be for sale, with a portion of the profits benefiting the JCC.

The exhibit also marks another milestone in the Saratoga resident’s life — her 70th birthday, hence the title “Three Score and Ten.” The exhibit will include Stone’s unique watercolor paintings from 1995 through the present — a mini-retrospective.

Bonnie Stone’s “A Stone’s Throw” was inspired by two mothers, an Israeli and an Arab, talking about the deaths of their daughters.

If it were a true retrospective she’d have to go back to the late 1930s in Chicago, when Stone’s aunt gifted her a brand new easel. From there she began creating intricate line drawings and jeweled watercolors, eventually attending art college and teaching her craft to high school students.

One item she’ll have on display in the JCC exhibit is her old notebook filled with work she’s done for various Jewish organizations since the 1970s. The book is stuffed with postcards, flyers and even a Jewish Bulletin (now j.) Resource guide cover she designed in 1993.

There also will be the postcards she created for the Addison-Penzak JCC before it had secured its Los Gatos location. Stone recalls an old house the “underground” group rented in San Jose where the ideas to create the JCC were formed. She’d designed a postcard for the group with the old “Two Jews, Three Opinions” joke, illustrated. Recently a woman tapped Stone and asked, “Are you the one who created the postcard that’s been taped to my fridge?”

“[The exhibit] is a real walk down memory lane for people who have been in the community for a long time,” Stone says.

Stone says that most people know her work from the postcards, flyers or the illustrations she’s done for books such as “The Yiddish Alphabet” and “Memories From a Russian Kitchen.”

Many of Stone’s paintings are inspired by women’s stories and the changing roles of women within the confines of Judaism. She also enjoys creating images of different cultures brought together, using her unique style of fine-pointed watercolor painting (though her exact technique is a secret).

“I have the feeling that if you put women from all over the world in big tent or yurt, and we started telling stories and life experiences, many of them would overlap,” Stone says.

She is looking forward to the community seeing more of her social commentary–filled watercolor pieces, though she warns that some of the images might be different from what people in the Jewish community are used to seeing.

“A woman once pointed at one of my paintings and said flatly, ‘Women don’t wear tefillin,” Stone explains. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, but they do.’”

“Three Score and Ten: A Narrative Voice” will be on display from April 22 through June 3 at the Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. There will be an artist’s reception at 7:30 p.m. April 22. For more information, call (408) 357-7492.