Saturday, May 27, 2023

"Mary, Can You Change The Music, Please."

 Good "I hate the f%@*king Eagles, man!" Saturday Morning, y'all.

Well, ya know, it's one of those pre-programmed stations whose playlist just overplays certain songs and certain groups.

Big Al and I arrived at the counter to the mellow sounds of "Take It To The Limit" to order some coffee. Al always gets a small expresso cappucino. He normally stays only long enough to finish his morning jolt, but today was a bit different.

"Mary, can you change the music. I hate the damn Eagles," I said rather irritably since I hadn't had my first cup yet.

"Dude, exclaimed Big Al, The Big Lebowsky!"

"Hey you mean like the Dude, his Dudeness, Duder, um, the effin El Duderino?"

"Yeh, man, Al said, that line is from the movie,"The Big Lebowsky!"

"Oh man, Mary jumps in and says, I love that movie!"

Next thing you know, we three are recreating our favorite scenes like bowling alley confrontations, the sweater, the rug, the Dude's penchant for a white Russians... stuff like that.

Al and I got our coffees, sat down and for another twenty minutes or so, we're mixing the movie with other subjects like the finer points of welding (Big Al's a metal sculptor) and my Air Force paintings in the Pentagon.(I had just received my new copy of ASAA's "Aero Brush" magazine and brought it along to read.)

His cappucino finished, Al gingerly extracts himself from the leather sofa and as he heads for the door, Al turns and stops, smiles and points to the heavens and says, "I hate the f%@**king Eagles"... Ha!

"Take It Easy" was playing on the radio.

No cups, yet...

 Copyright 2023/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

"He Liked The Photo Better"...

Old West Altar
Last night, while having dinner, we watched a PBS series called, "Iconic America" where the reporter wanted to get to the bottom of the lore of the real cowboy vs the TV hero. Being a baby boomer, we could relate to the questions the reporter was asking of real cowboys about how TV heroes like Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy was distorted even more by the movie industry.

 What's the real story!
So funny, are my latest connections to the story because just three weeks ago, some artists from the Lacombe Artist Guild came to the coffeehouse, Giddy Up in Folsom, to sketch and nosh a bit. We picked a saddle seated atop a wooden bannister as our subject, but it wasn't a great saddle and it wasn't well lit.
I mentioned a saddle I sketched a few years back and liked it enough to add some color to it, and post it on Facebook. Well, a friend of Karen Kuchar, Linda and David Weirather, saw it and thought it would fit right into the extra bedroom they had. It was turned into a western theme.
The room originally belong to their daughter who passed away a few years back. Having lost our son in 2013, we had a lot more in common then just the old west. So, as requested, I tore it out of the sketchbook and sold it to them.
About a week ago, looking for something interesting to sketch, I saw this rusted old spur that broke away from the other half on the wall and rested behind the original saddle I had sketched years ago. How appropriate... kinda like an omen of sorts!

 So, I sketched it as is on one of the Giddy Up coffee tables and posted it. David saw my post and loved it. He thought that the real rusted spur sitting on the table in front of the Giddy Up branded logo was gonna be a nice edition to his collection. So, he asked to purchase just the photo... How could I refuse him.
Check's in the mail, man...
Second cup!
 Copyright/2023/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, May 18, 2023

"Hey Coach... Remember Me?"

Bluetail Medical Group, Chesterfield, MO

Good Throwback Thursday Morning from St. Louis, MO.'
Lots of reflection going on here currently. 
So funny. I overheard a conversation one man relating his upbringing to a teacher he fondly remembered. It was weird because last week on Facebook, someone I now from the old neighborhood was talking about meeting one of his high school teachers after all those years. 
It was one of those, "Hey there sir, do you remember me?"
And, of course, the friend was positively affected by the teacher's response. I tried to relate a similar story to this friend in an attempt to continue the conversation passed the "like button" or some aggravating emoji, but I couldn't find the blog story I wanted to use.
This morning, on a TBT day, I moseyed through my memories notifications and found the very post I created years ago but couldn't find last week... 
Freaks me out...
Third Hampton Inn cup...
Good Monday Morning, all bodies.
Yeh, it's a Monday again... Second cup!
"Hey Coach!"
When returned to Southern California, after being away for about five or six years, my wife and I visited a local restaurant that at one time was owned by Dodger manager, Tommy LaSorda.
Of course, it was an Italian restaurant. But, while eating there, a former Little League team mate who was with his family dining, saw me and called from across the room, "Hey Coach!"
I always loved that.
I remember a coach as a young ballplayer who directly and indirectly taught me a thing or two.
With "ducks on the pond" and probably nobody out it was a definite bunting situation, but I struck out swinging. The next time at bat, I was given a signal, but never got it. After a swing and a miss, the coach called me over to third base for a conference.
"You see this bat?" he said pointing to the bat with his right arm around me.
"The next time you miss a signal, I'm gonna wrap that bat around your head... Okay?"
"Uh, okay, coach!"
This was my coach almost all through my little league days. I read online that he just recently passed away. This scenario was the first thing that entered my mind. I shook my head and chuckled. As a coach in South Pasadena for over 12 years, I remember vowing to never motivate a player in such a way.
I also remember that same coach escorted me to the St. Claude Hospital when I snapped the ulna and radius in half on my glove hand just before a game. I don't recall being too upset as a twelve year old though I didn't look at my forearm much. The coach could never have been so attentive. He stayed with me long after my mom arrived and the arm was reset and put in a cast.
I only remember hoping to get home in time to watch the first episode of Combat! on TV.
Coach always gathered the team together before each game, and sometimes, before each practice, to pray for a good game, sportsmanship, and give thanks to the Lord for our parents and teachers. Maybe, he started a prayer at practice after my accident... I wouldn't be surprised.
Many years later visiting home, we attended Mass at St. Raphael, in Gentilly and was surprised to see and hear the man read the sermons. His voice was very 9th Ward as he had a tendency to speak through the side of his mouth.
"Therese, remember that guy I told you about that coached me all those years at Bunnyfriend Playground?"
"Yes, what about it," she asked.
"That's him on the podium. I haven't seen him in twenty years or more," I said.
"I gotta see him after Mass, okay?"
Immediately after the blessing, I dragged our son and my wife to the parking lot to intercept him and capture a moment from my past.
Walking away from a few Mass celebrants, and as he headed for his car, I yelled, "Hey Coach! Remember me?"
Gotta be a special place in heaven for coaches like Firmin Simms!
Copyright 2023/ Ben Bensen III


Monday, May 8, 2023

"For Me, It Was The Adventure Of A Lifetime."

Cuttin' Up with my electric eraser...

Good Monday Morning, all bodies.

Last Wednesday, I finally took a friend's offer to checkout my Husqvarna chainsaw. I've been complaining... no, bitching, about the fact that my old Husqvarna that I purchased used immediately after Hurricane Katrina, never needed such "babying." 
Herb has heard my complaints for over two years now.
Anyway, I finally brought the barely used saw to him and after some minor adjustments and a little TLC, the saw worked like a charm. Herb took the chainsaw out to the wood pile and tested the blade with a few quick cuts. He also showed me the best process for keeping the carburetor clean and in running shape.
I kinda knew all that already, but...
The McCulloch artwork was one of eight storyboard frames I created a long time ago. The model had a brand new look so the ad agency gave me the saw to draw from. It was also one of the first times that I actually used an electric eraser to render with.
The storyboard was rather personal for me. As the story goes, this rain drenched man climbs the trunk of a huge tree and cuts it away from the house. As a sixteen year old, my mother asked me if I could climb our front yard magnolia tree and free the house's electrical line from a branch that had broken and hung precariously on the line.
I don't know what my mother was thinking, but my grandmother went "apeshit" because it was at the height of Hurricane Betsy. For me, it was the adventure of a lifetime.
So, with a kitchen broom in my hand, through wind and rain, I climbed the tree and dislodged the branch. I remember after doing so, a feeling of such satisfaction as I just sat in the tree to take in a birdseye view of the neighborhood being blown around in the storm.
I also remember that, like a cat stuck up in a tree, having the realization that it is easier to climb up a tree than it is to climb down... especially in a hurricane.
First Giddy Up cup, y'all...
Copyright 2023/Ben Bensen III

Saturday, April 29, 2023

“It's Guy Deel, dammit,” I said to myself "...

Good Friday Morning, y’all.

“Guy Deel!”
“Guy Deel, dammit,” I said to myself as I drove to Giddy Up yesterday morning.

In a conversation with some friends on Wednesday, one friend mentioned that her husband loved to read novels about the Old West. I believe we all arrive at that topic because Dennis’s wife loves the Rodeo Channel and old Westerns.

“Well, Frank loves to read Western novels by Louis L'Amour, and that McCarthy guy,” Maureen said.
Attempting to participate in the conversation having never read one of the many Louie L’Amour books, I said, “Oh wow. I knew one of the Illustrators that actually painted covers for Western novels.” I know that he painted quite a few Louie L’Amour covers.

“Yeh, his name was…”
At that point, I went blank as Maureen appeared a bit miffed that I had hijacked her story with a story that I couldn’t complete. I apologized and then, just listened to the many stories that cropped up over a second cup.

I sat there ruminating over my entire relationship to a man that I first met, mid semester at Art Center, as a replacement for George Bartell, who’s young son suddenly died in a skateboard accident. I was not a big fan of Bartell’s style of illustrating. It was sad that George had lost a son in such a way, but I grew to like this new teacher’s style.

I think I got an “A” in that class… Ha!

Every now and then, later in my career, I’d bump into the man at one LA art function or another. He, like I, was an artist for the Air Force Art Program, (with 17 paintings created as a member from 1978 to 2000) and that’s where I really got to spend some quality time with him over the years.
But, for the next 24 hours, I struggled, in vain, trying to put a name to the art and the face of someone I knew well enough to call him a friend, and one of the many who had an influence on me and what I wanted from my art.

I remember him telling me about getting the details of your painting correct right up front especially historically. "The right pistol in the wrong holster just won't do to those who are knowledgeable buyers!"
Guy nodded in affirmation when I mentioned that aviation art is very much like Westerns.
Then, out of the blue, for no reason whatsoever, the man’s name popped up out of my head… 

Guy Deel. What a deal!
First cup before the deluge!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

"Galleries and Moms!"


 So funny. I just sent a prospective gallery some of my latest Plein Air stuff just to let them know I am kinda producing. The galleries retort was,

"Thank you for showing me what you are doing! Bright and graphic! Might be too bold for this gallery... Best of luck in Abita Springs.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that comment. It is really professional for them to even respond. Every gallery has their niche, and that's the beauty of art. I understand... I think there wrong, but I totally understand!
It does bring back a time when many of my friends and relatives were worried about me because many of my images were so dark and moody, and foreboding.
"Who would want to have that in their homes?" my mother would say. She once, because I was in a funk about a guitar chord that I could not play, practically gave me permission to go to Bourbon Street and..."try to have a good time!"
Mothers... who can figure them out!
Galleries, too!

Copyright2023/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

"Well, Mothers Do Have Their Ways!"

Claes Oldenberg Lives...

 Good "foggy and humid" Wednesday Morning, y'all.

I didn't know Claes Oldenberg was fond of making model airplanes... If you know what I mean. Claes was artist/sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring large replicas of everyday objects.
I saw this photo a couple of weeks ago and cracked up. If you were a model maker back in the Fifties and Sixties, the design on this tube of cement will send you way back.
It also reminds me of a story that I might have mentioned before where against my mother orders, I bought for 29¢, maybe 49¢, Aurora's kit of the Lockheed F-94C Starfire. I hid it inside the upright piano that no one has ever played on for years.

Long ago and far away, this model costs .49¢.

Well, mothers have their ways, don't they. I have to assume, in spite of my surreptitiously covert action, that my mom found out about the stash. It was really hard to lay low till the heat was over, but when I returned to my secret hideaway few impatient days later, the model was missing!
Where could it have gone?
I lifted the piano cover and practically climbed into it sifting in between the felt hammers thinking the small box may have slipped way down below them. I pushed down the foot pedals hoping doing so would pop up the hidden gem. But, to no avail.
Swallowing hard a month or two after I "filed a missing person's plane report", I asked my mother, with slight trepidation, if she had seen this model of the famous Lockheed F-94C Starfire. She looked at me rather confusedly. Even at an early age, I was about eight years old at the time, I knew my mother was known for her practical jokes.
But, after repeated inquiries over a series of months, I could see in my mother's eyes that she wasn't joking and was starting to show concern for my loss... and my emotional well being.
"Poor baby!"
The mystery still haunts me sometimes in my dreams. Did I actually get on my bike and ride three miles to the strip mall hobby shop between the cemeteries and the Gentilly Branch of the U.S. Post Office.
I was a regular client there. I showed up every other weekend from a weeks worth of cut lawns with money burning a hole in my pocket.
But that part of the dream never occurs. It was only of me opening the piano top and setting into the hammers the model of the Lockheed F-94C Starfire, and returning to find it gone.
A few years later, belonging to the American Society of Aviation Artists,( ASAA ) and having forgotten all about the mystery, I found a picture of the wonderful illustrator that stole my aviation soul to sent it to some nebulous dream world. Where DID that illusive 1/82 scale model of the famous Lockheed F-94C Starfire go?
Thank you, Joe Kotula... I think!
Second foggy cup!

Copyright 2023/Ben Bensen III