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An Ålander Artist: Ture Bengtz


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Arnold Carlson

News from the Åland Islands Emigrant Institute tells of an Emigrants Day activity in which the speaker, Kjell Ekstrom, spoke of artist Ture Bengtz (1907-1973). This was of interest to me because at the age of 18, young Ture arrived from Åland and stayed in Medford, Massachusetts with his uncle Ellis Carlson and family. My father, Carl Carlson and Ellis Carlson were Ålander friends. Our homes were in walking distance of one another and I was told that young Ture had visited our home with his Uncle Ellis.

Ture stayed with his uncle for 2 years and worked with him as a painter. He also attended night school to learn English. An art class was offered which Ture attended, but the teacher soon recognized his talents and advised Ture to apply to an art school.

Bengtz entered the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1928. He continued to work with his uncle to earn his way and graduated in 1933, with a scholarship that allowed him to study summers in Europe for four years, at the Slade School in London and at the Fontainebleau in Paris. In 1934 he was offered a position as an instructor at the Boston Museum School, which began 38 years of teaching at that institution.

Ture Bengtz initiated the start of Graphics Department at the Museum in 1939 and became the head of the Drawing and Graphic Arts Department in 1941. With a good friend and students, he initiated start of the Boston Printmakers Association in 1946. This grew to be a respected and well known organization and is still an active business today. Ture Bengtz enjoyed his teaching and his students, and he loved being an American citizen while he remained loyal to his early Åland home. He felt that anyone with a Scandinavian name was always a good person.

In 1957, he started a series of TV programs, "Bengtz on Drawing," which ran for 3 years on Boston's PBS station. For several summers, Ture conducted an art class for boys at Lennox, Massachusetts. It was here that he met the Weyerhaeuser family, which spent summers in Duxbury, Massachusetts. A friendship developed, ultimately leading to the establishment of and finally the construction of the Art Complex Museum. Ture provided the basic plan for this building and later became its first director. The Weyerhaeusers' wish for this museum was to house an extensive collection their families had acquired over many years. It opened in 1971.

Ture was proficient in a variety of media: oil, drawing, lithography, watercolor, and etching. A challenge in the 1960s was to design and build a stained glass window for his family church, built in the 12th century in the Åland Islands. The window was installed and dedicated in 1968. An abstract, it depicted Christ and St. Olaf, the patron saint of the Åland Islands. Template:Quarterly 13-1

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