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Painting Outside the Lines: How Gorman Bentley Breaks Boundaries as a Queer Artist and Educator

Gorman Bentley is a visual artist who creates vibrant and expressive paintings that reflect his personal and professional experiences. He is also an educator who has taught art and design for over 40 years, inspiring generations of students to pursue their creative passions. In this blog post, we will explore how Gorman Bentley balances his dual roles as an artist and an educator, and how he overcomes the challenges and celebrates the achievements of his artistic journey.


From Minnesota to California: A Journey of Discovery


Gorman Bentley was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, in 1953¹. Being born different when and where difference was not acceptable led Gorman to dream of someday being somewhere where he actually could belong.  Much of his work reflects on the visions that served him as a young child as a way of coping, and waiting, for that better time and place.  Gorman hopes that his life’s journey will comfort anyone who feels unloved. “If you can dream it, the better day will come.”


He attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he earned a B.S. Ed. in 1975¹. The school where he did his student teaching in Guadalajara, Mexico, hired him, and he stayed there teaching long past the time his working visa expired.  He then chose a Guadalajara-like California to pursue a master's degree in education at California State University, Los Angeles¹.


It was in California that Gorman Bentley discovered his true artistic voice and style. He was influenced by the diverse and dynamic culture of Los Angeles, as well as by the works of contemporary artists such as Jon Altoon, Sam Francis and Richard Diebenkorn². He developed a distinctive palette of deeply rich tones and vast color fields, and a penchant for depicting mind imagery over physical realities.  


Teaching Art and Design: A Passion and a Purpose


Gorman Bentley has always been passionate about teaching art and design. He believes that art education is essential for developing critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in students of all ages and backgrounds. He has taught at various levels, from elementary school to college, and has also participated in several art education programs at the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles¹.


As an educator, Gorman Bentley strives to create a positive and engaging learning environment for his students. He encourages them to experiment with different media and techniques, to express their ideas and emotions through art, and to appreciate the beauty and diversity of art history and culture. He also shares his own artistic process and challenges with his students, showing them that art is not only a product, but also a practice.


Creating Art: A Struggle and a Success


Gorman Bentley is a prolific and versatile artist who works in oil, acrylic, graphite and chalk.   He creates paintings that range from figurative to abstract to non-objective.  He draws inspiration from his personal experience, his observations, and his imagination.  As a queer artist, his work will reflect the subtle traits common to other queer artists such as Rauschenberg, Singer-Sargent and Twombly.  Those traits include, but are not limited to, an element of suffering, of contradictions, of remoteness, of vulnerability, and of repression.  




However, creating art is not always easy for Gorman Bentley. He faces many challenges, such as finding the time and the large, open spaces to make art while balancing his teaching career and family life. As with so many artists, he wrestles with the with self-doubts and he admits that he sometimes feels frustrated and discouraged by the difficulties of being a full time, career artist. Yet, Gorman Bentley does not give up on his artistic dreams. He perseveres with passion and purpose, finding joy and satisfaction in the act of painting itself. He also seeks opportunities to share his art with others, such as participating in exhibitions, residencies, festivals, and fundraisers¹. He has received recognition and awards for his work and has sold his paintings to a widely diverse groups of collectors³.



Untitled 10, 48X48X1.5 inches, acrylic on canvas

Gorman Bentley: An Artist Who Inspires


Gorman Bentley is an artist who paints with passion and purpose. He is also an educator who teaches with enthusiasm and empathy. He is a role model for aspiring artists and educators alike, showing them that it is possible to pursue one's creative passions while fulfilling one's professional responsibilities. He is an artist who inspires us with his meaningful and expressive paintings that celebrate life in all its forms.


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