Wilder Mayo Bentley Biography

Wilder Mayo Bentley




Wilder Mayo Bentley (known as Wilder Bentley the Younger or Wilder Bentley, II), printmaker, painter, and craftsman, was born in 1928 in Oklahoma City where his father was a student at the Univeristy of Oklahoma. He grew up in Berkeley, California where he eventually learned printing and typesetting from his father, Harvey Wilder Bentley. At ten years of age he was illustrating broadsides that were distributed by his father.

Wilder the Younger graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951. He also studied at the University of Perugia, Italy between 1952 and 1953. In 1953, Wilder was one of five main characters, playing the character Paul, in Christopher Maclaine's avant-garde film The End. Harvey Wilder Bentley was a close friend of Chirua Obata and Wilder the Younger benefitted from this friendship by receiving informal watercolor and sumi painting instruction from Chiura Obata over many years. Much later Wilder reminisced about Obata, "What he taught was to have faith in your own abilities, carry something out from beginning to end without vacillations, stand up to adversary without complaint, be generous with your time to other people but don't let them waste it and to correct people without resorting to destructive criticism."

In 1959, Wilder Mayo Bentley set up the Bread & Wine Press in San Francisco, where he published four pamphlets of poetry by various authors, and went on to exhibit his work throughout the west. He has created many folios of his art in a variety of media, including engravings in wood and copper, watercolors, and digital works. Among these are included the works “Oiomai, a Prophesy” (1965), “Adrift in Valueland, Vol. I: The Triumph of the Antichrist” (1970), “Native Funk and Flash” (1976-1977), which was included in a traveling group show sent to museums throughout the southwest; and Storm’s Fury” (2007). 

Wilder Mayo Bentley has exhibited at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California; the University of California, Santa Cruz; Mills College in Oakland, California; University of California, Los Angeles; and the New Mexico State Library. His work is included in the collections of the Autry Museum of the American West, Rosicrucian Library, San Jose, the UCLA rare books collection, the New York Public Library and the Bancroft Library.

Wilder Mayo Bentley died in October, 2018 in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California.