Bernice Bing, or “Bingo,” was, in many ways, an artist’s artist. She was a well-respected figure in the San Francisco arts community during the 1950s and ’60s, but her
paintings have largely been left out of the movement’s subsequent history. It is, of course, unsurprising that the works of a Chinese-American and lesbian artist would fall through the cracks of art history—and in her painting Blue Light
(1961), she grappled with this very issue. The red ideogram meaning “humanity” in Chinese and the heart symbolism show Bing’s attempt to find a place in American society through abstract, spiritual imagery. “Both symbols—humanity and heart—reflect Bing,” Flo Wong, an artist and close friend of Bing’s, once said.
The exhibition“Bingo: The Life and Art of Bernice Bing,” on view at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art until January 5, 2020, details Bing’s well-respected place in the arts community during her active years. The curator, Linda Keaton, writes in the exhibition catalogue that Bing’s life detailed “early heartbreak, trying obstacles, and ultimately the triumph of a modern woman.”