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CIEL BERGMAN (1938-2017) - Artists - Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara's Finest Art Gallery

Ciel Bergman, previously Cheryl Bowers, was a California based Post-Modernist painter, who is best known for her abstract works that focus on nature and the feminine consciousness. Bergman was originally a registered nurse in Obstetrics when she began to study painting under Peter Blos and Vincent Perez. After being awarded first place in painting in the Jack London Invitational, Bergman returned to school and received her MFA with Honors from the San Francisco Art Institute under Fred Martin. 

Upon graduation she began lecturing at the University of California, Berkeley in 1973, followed by the University of Oregon in 1975. In 1976 she was offered a full time faculty-position at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she taught until 1994. Earlier in her career she met her idol Georgia O’keeffe in New Mexico. Bergman never let her love for New Mexico fade, and upon retiring from her faculty position at UCSB she moved to New Mexico and bought land in the high desert. She later moved to Santa Fe, where she painted the rest of her life.

Her art and life became more dedicated to the environment after her most famous exhibition "Sea of Clouds What Can I Do?", an exhibition where Bergman and her collaborator Nancy Merrill collected litter off of the beach and installed seven trash cans full of garbage at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum. To further her environmentalist efforts, Bergman sprouted the idea that plastic, a petroleum based product, could be recycled and used to build highways to produce a more sustainable asphalt. This idea was patented under the name “Plasphalt”. Plasphalt was used to reinforce a 2 mile stretch in New Mexico’s 1-25, and is used to build roads in China and India today.

Ciel Bergman strived to create transcendental emotional work that spoke to the “collective unconscious.” Today her work can be found in collections across the nation such as  the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA; and the National Gallery, Washington, DC.




San Francisco Art Institute
UC Berkeley



Society for the Encouragement of the Creative Arts (SFMOMA)
1975  Whitney Biennial of American Art 
1980  Louis Comfort Tiffany Award
Finalist, General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture Program, San Francisco Federal Building



Achenbach Foundation, Palace Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Art, Racine, Wisconsin
Contemporary Arts Society (Great Britain), London, UK
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY (Temple to Overlook Fury, 1983, Latric, 1983)
Museum of Modern Art (Eye Magazine), New York City, NY
National Gallery, Washington, DC (prints)
Nevada Museum of Art, Archives, ART+ECO, Reno, NV (Plasphalt)
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
Oakland Museum of California Art, Oakland, CA
Orange County Museum of Art, Anaheim, CA
Richard L. Nelson Fine Art Collection, University of California, Davis, CA
Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Pomona, California
Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami, FL
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (House, Soul, Brushes, 1950, Red Fence, 1978-79)
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA
University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
University of Washington, Bellingham, WA
Whitney Museum of American Art (Eye Magazine), New York City, NY


2018  The Linens: Paintings by Ciel Bergman, 1970-1977, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe
2012  Archives of Plasphalt, Reno, Nevada
2004  Blood, Milk, and Water, Linda Durham Contemporary Art, Santa Fe
2002  The Alchemy of Devotion, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, San Diego, CA
2000  Antidotes, Linda Durham Contemporary Art, Galisteo, NM
2000  The Last Sunset Of the 20th Century, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, San Diego, CA
1998  Before New Mexico/After California: Paintings & Drawings, 1980-1998, Richard L. Nelson Gallery, UC Davis, CA
1990  Good Wild Sacred, Jaffe Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, FL
1989  Good Wild Sacred, Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1987  Sea Of Clouds What Can I Do, Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum, CA
1986  Dark Ones, Pamela Auchincloss Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1985  Cheryl Bowers at Ivory/Kimpton, Fifth Anniversary Exhibition, San Francisco, CA
1983  Red Gate, Kirk deGooyer Gallery, Los A ngeles, CA
1982  Temples, Ian Birksted Gallery, London, England
1982  Temples, Ivory/Kimpton Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1981  Trial for Passage, Kirk deGooyer Gallery, Los Angeles, CA



2017  Alcoves 16/17 #7 New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
2012  Ciel Bergman: Sea of Clouds What Can I do, Nevada Museum of Art
2011  GALLERY SELECTIONS 2011, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla, CA
2008  Place in Time, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. catalog
2008  Women's Work, Four Painters, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla, CA
2006  The Barry Berkus and Family Art Collection, Channing Peake Galler, Santaa Barbara, CA. County Arts Commission. catalog
2003  Duct and Cover, The Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, MN
2002  Women Beyond Border, University Art Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
2002  Representing Landscape, UCSD Art Gallery, San Diego, CA
2001  SITE Unseen 2 (benefit), James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
2001  Originals, New Mexico Women Artists, National Museum of Women in the Arts The Harwood Museum, Sep-Nov, Taos, NM
2001  The Necessary Beauty, R.B. Stevenson Gallery, San Diego, CA
2000  WBB, Greece, United Kingdom, Singapore
1999  Before/Now, Images of the Self, Past and Present, Bergamot Station T2, Santa Monica, CA
1999  WBB, Tenryu, Tokyo, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Saigon; Vietnam; ireland
1998  The Art of Drawing, James Kelly Contemporary Art Santa Fe, NM
1998  Trees & Faces, Santa Fe International Academy of Art, Santa Fe, NM
1998  WBB, Katmandu, Nepal; Toronto, Canada; Havana, Cuba; Oaxaca, Mexico
1997  Women/Beyond Borders, traveling worldwide, 200 women artists from 20 countries, Kenya National Museum,
1997  Gallery of Contemporary East Africa Art, Nairobi, Kenya; Extra Moenia Arte Moderna, Todi Italy ;Kulturhuset, Stockholm,
1997 Sweden; United Kingdom
1996  Flower Power, Cabrillo College Gallery, Aptos, CA
1996  Women/Beyond Borders, traveling ICC Contemporary, Jerusalen, Israel; The Kunstlerhaus, Graz, Austria; Spain
1995  Celebration, La Galeria Arriba, Abiquiu, NM
1995  Women/Beyond Borders (Premier Exhibition), Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum, CA
1995 Scissors, Paper, Stone, Nine Women Working, Santa Maria Museum Art Center, CA
1995  Verde Que Te Quiero Verde, Joint exhibition of artists from Spain/United State, California State University,Long Beach, CA
1995  Flora, Contemporary Artists and the World of Flowers, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museumtraveling to Art Museum of Southeast
1995  Texas, New Mexico Museum of Natural History; Gibbes Museum, NC; Dixon Gallery and Gardens, TN (catalog)

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