City Sketch: Roger Berry


A lot of math goes into Roger Berry’s metal sculptures, whether the Clarksburg artist is working with arcs and spirals or conical variations of sundials. His passion for number crunching is remarkable considering he flunked the subject years ago. “For me, nobody ever made the connection between mathematics and the physical world,†he explains.
     Berry’s work is on display throughout Northern California, from the grounds of the Crocker Art Museum (the 11-foot-tall “Eclipseâ€) to Stanford University. Some of his most colorful works also are scientific: His 51-foot spiraling “Portrait of a DNA Sequence†(pictured above) hangs inside the life sciences building at UC Davis. This spring, he’s installing a steel and colored-glass rendition of stem cell division—a trio of 17-foot metal columns and 670 mirrored rings—at UC Davis Medical Center’s education building.
     Because of the heft, scale and cost involved in his art, Berry designs on the computer. Two welders work with him in his barn-turned-studio once it’s time for assembly. A lumberman’s son, he spent his Sacramento childhood building soapbox derby cars. Later, in Oregon, he hauled scrap metal for pay and often passed a metal sculpture by the late American artist David Smith outside the Portland Art Museum. “It was just so beautiful,†he says. “It suddenly clicked.â€
     Berry showed his first sundials in San Francisco in 1980 and was lauded by a Bay Area art critic for his “visionary expression using a severe vocabulary grounded in Constructivism.†In 1988, he and his wife moved to Clarksburg, where he tends a 20-acre vineyard. Grape-growing has influenced his craft. “It has calmed me down and given me patience,†he says.
     Berry’s work is exhibited locally at JayJay, 5520 Elvas Ave. Visit to learn more.