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Gwen Stone (1913-2007)

  • Gwen Stone was an artist, teacher, poet, and playwright.  She studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and taught Art at College of Marin.  Stone exhibited at the CA Palace of the Legion of Honor, SF Museum (now SFMOMA), Oakland Museum, Richmond Art Center, Redding Museum, and San Jose Museum, among others.  She is included in many collections, such as UC Berkeley and the National Museum of Women Artists, in addition to private and corporate collections.  Stone was honored with the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 1990.

    Gwen Stone was born Guinevere Sasso on February 1, 1913 in Manhattan, New York.  She later took the name Gwen Stone (‘sasso’ is stone in Italian) as a stage name.

    As a child, Stone took up drawing and painting and was encouraged in the arts by her creative parents.  By 1929, Stone’s family had moved back to her mother’s native San Francisco, where she attended College of Marin and the San Francisco Art Institute.  Stone studied design and figure drawing, but left school when her funds ran out.

    In 1937, Stone met her future husband, radio announcer Karl Barron.  That same year, Barron and Stone starred in a play together at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, and a few months later they married.  Stone held several jobs within radio and theater, including working as a nightclub singer, radio show host, and theater performer.

    In 1945, Stone and Barron moved with their children, Stephanie (b. 1939) and Greg (b. 1940) to Sausalito, where they eventually lived on a houseboat and where Stone held her artist studio.  Stone wanted to be involved in a close-knit artist community and to fully explore the visual arts.

    Stone began painting by taking private lessons at first.  In 1959, she joined the Marin Society of Artists, participating in their monthly exhibits (and receiving multiple awards) for several years.  By the early 1960s, Stone was teaching painting, collage, and drawing at College of Marin and working as an art book critic and interviewer for Visual Dialog, a quarterly arts magazine.  By 1965, Stone was included in SFAI’s Fine Art Auction alongside Jay DeFeo, Manuel Neri, and Wally Hedrick. In 1967 she had her first major show at the Palace of Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and in the 1970s, exhibited with the Rap Group, a Bay Area women’s art collective.  In 1977, Stone’s fifteen year retrospective was held at Solano College.

    In 1979, Stone and Barron moved to Siskiyou County.  In five months they hand-built their home and Stone’s art studio.  In terms of getting involved in the local art community, Stone held an open house at her studio, exhibited her collages at the Yreka Community Theater, served on the Siskiyou Arts Council, judged art competitions, organized a poetry contest, and curated shows at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, CA.  She continued to direct, write, and act in community theater, many times alongside Barron.

    Gwen Stone died March 6, 2007 at her home.
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