Friday, December 4, 2015

"As An Artist, I Take Great Pride In My Objectivism, But..."

As an artist, I have suffered the scorn of many a relative and friends for standing on the high ground of objectivism, or as some would pundit, sitting on top of the fence. It is not like I have no opinion on the state of our world, globally or locally. But, why should I show the negatives of my upbringing and entertain all the prejudices I have temporarily to have an opinion that is sure to show what a rotten person I really can be.

I mean, what's in it for me, to do so... ya know?

I believe it is part of the job, as a card carrying artist, to be the sense of reason in a world that begs for over the top, dangerously emotional solutions. I mean, I love those political cartoonists and the incredible visual statements they make every day in every paper known in the free, and not so free, world.  I just don't have the "chops" to be so bold and to think that my world "vision"and comments are worth the cost of a newspaper.  I must say, I am a bit jealous of those that profit so well from exposing their prejudices, no matter how well thought out they may be while I sit alone in my own emotionally objective cubicle!

Having said all that, there is one thing that at this time of year just makes me so embarrassing subjective. Unfortunately, there is always, as an open minded artist, a danger of making a subjective judgement that may be based on opinion, here say, personal tastes, or feelings. I so try to battle with my psyche on this concern.

But, this is my true gut reaction... I can, no longer, contain myself. 

If lawyers wanting to become successful politicians by passing such insipid laws, here's one I would definitely agree with and vote for. Pass a law that prohibits anyone from performing or recording their sad version of "The Christmas Song!" ( affectionately known as Chestnuts Roasting! )

It totally belongs to the real "King Cole and no one else."Forget versions by

  • George Strait ( Nice, the twang kills me! I guess you have to be from there... other good songs, though)
  • Barbra Streisand ( Oh, I don't know... it's just not Nat's enough )
  • Donna Summer ( A disco version? In Summer? )
  • The Supremes ( Stop... in the name of good taste! )
  • Take 6 ( Take it away... )
  • James Taylor ( Aw, I say that everytime I hear him on any song. His, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is special, though. )
  • Jack Teagarden
  • The Temptations ( a "Ball of Confusion" meets Chestnuts! )
  • Mel Tormé –Well, maybe him because he wrote and recorded the song four times (1954, 1961, 1966 and finally in 1992 as part of his album "Christmas Songs")
  • Randy Travis ( too drunk! )
  • Twisted Sister ( too twisted! )
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ( too screechy! )
  • Luther Vandross ( His is a damn good version... ! )
  • Andy Williams ( smooth... but no! Maybe, Perry... haven't heard him do it... maybe! )
  • Stevie Wonder ( great Christmas album, but I always felt his Christmas songs a bit preachy! )
  • Dwight Yoakam ( I wonder what he'd look like in a Santa's hat... of course, the fuzzy white ball of fur would have to cover his eyes! )

See what I mean? "AND THERE'S MORE!" but thankfully, I decided to give it up logging all the folks who thought singing this song was a great idea. Thanks Wikipedia, for your help, butou get the picture!
I know this is quite unreasonable. But, I just don't wanna hear no more ridiculous jazzy, or pseudo heart felt dribble, no rock n' roll, cock rock, fluffy, spandex Santa,  or hipster versions... Nothing, Nada, Hasta Luego... that's it.

I know my vote doesn't mean one hill of beans to these law making "politicians." 

I've asked Santa, but he tells me the same thing every year...His reputation would be compromised to show such subjective prejudices. Okay,  I can understand his position on this matter, but...

I am really putting my reputation on the line as an open minded artist by saying this, but my ears just can't stomach any version, but the "King's!"

Merry Christmas?

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Bunnyfriend"... It Was A Great Place To Grow Up And Learn The Game.

Dedicated to all those who remembered the old Bunny Friend, like Rusty Staub, David Mares, Billy Mares, Ronnie Quick, Benny Dupre, Firmin Simms and a host of other players.
When I was a kid, a long time ago, I'd take seven cents of my twenty five cents and catch the Franklin Avenue bus and then, transfer over on the Galvez bus to play baseball, all summer long until I went to high school. It was a great place to grow up and learn the game. I was always proud of the park I played baseball for. We always performed well at all the local tournaments. After practice, I'd sometimes get invited to hang in the projects to play, usually kid created games like line ball or roof baseball.

Bunny Friend Park, located in the ninth ward in New Orleans, Louisiana, is named in honor of Joseph E. Friend and Ida Weis Friend's son, Bunny, who died at age 18. Ida donated $4,000 to a fund to create a playground in memory of her son, and the fund grew into more than $10,000. She also donated a block of land to the city between Gallier and Desire streets. The playground established there was named Bunny Friend Park, and two of the the streets bordering the playground were later officially designated North Bunny Friend and South Bunny Friend.

In the early nineties, visiting from SoCal, I decided to drive by the old playground even though the "demographics" had severely changed. I just needed to connect with my New Orleans past. I drove around the circumference of the park to take some photos, never getting out of the car.

When I came to a stop light at the corner of Galvez and Desire Street, I stopped, only momentarily. I felt a vibe and there were too many folks hanging at the corners. I looked both ways before making a left onto Galvez against the red light.

That park was and still is called, " Bunnyfriend," where yesterday, sixteen people were injured by gang gun play.

So sad...

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Dat's Right, Cher... I'm Old School, And A "Ragin' Cajun Alumni"...

Home of the original Ragin' Cajun... my alma mater!

Good Throwback Thursday morning, all bodies!
As someone who takes pride in being organized and having a place for everything and everything in its place, every now and then, if I dig deep, I can find all sorts of nicky-knacks from "yesteryear" that doesn't belong... anywhere!
Well, the two top drawers in my dresser aren't very deep, but they are wide and long, and, while looking for a number 4 1x3/4 inch bolt that will be the final solution to the plastic postage stamp container puzzle, I ran across this decal.

Strangely enough, I am currently redesigning a decal for some engineers that graduated from Mississippi State University... go figure!
The sticker is probably the last of a dozen or so I used to have. I had one attached to every car I owned, and proudly displayed it all the years I lived in SoCal. A good friend, who I worked with for many years, used to call me the "Cajun Comp Artist" even though I told him I wasn't Cajun.
He'd say," Well, you lived in Lafayette, LA, and you like the hot sauce. You wear those crazy crawfish polo shirts all the time ( Perlis polo! ) and you graduated from USL and got the sticker on your car to prove it, so, to me, your the "Cajun Comp Artist!"
A decade or so ago, the powers that be, rearranged for political and financial reasons, the name of all the state colleges... all except, of course, LSU. It is now called the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 
What a mouthful!
Since then, I've disclaimed the name and the school... for the most part. But, maybe, just for the sake of the "rebellion" and because I am "old school", I might just stick this badass decal on my ...uh, um... hot rod Honda Odyssey!
Third rebellious cup...

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In Louisiana Cooking, You Have To Have These Three Ingredients...

Some of about thirty pieces I will display...

Tearing up the studio, again. I haven't finished putting the commercial work away that I used for a gallery retrospect at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Everyone, especially the students, seemed to be really into my presentation which was highlighted by videos of the Medal of Honor/ Pearl Harbor commercials that I storyboarded a few years back. But now...

I'm feeling the pressure to get on with the upcoming show this weekend, November 14th and 15th in Covington, Louisiana. It is a rather sleepy little town on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. The Covington Three Rivers Art Festival. is considered one of the largest shows in the Gulf South.

Of course, every festival says that!

My "Trinity Triptych." If you like to cook, you know what that is!
I need to work a bit more on my "Trinity" paintings. In Louisiana cooking, you have to have these three ingredients chopped... onions, bell pepper, and celery! For one set of the Trinity paintings, I'm asking two hundred a piece for the 5x5's and six hundred for the larger 12x12's.

Well, wish me luck... maybe, I will get a few folks from "Google+" to visit. I'm at booth #227 and on Sunday I am giving a paint demo and raffling off the piece at the end of the session.

See ya there!

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"I Just About Came Apart When I Learned Why She Wanted My Painting"...

SBD-5... Slow, But Deadly!
I received an interesting phone call this morning from a woman who visited Marc Poole and me at the airshow two weekends ago. She seemed to really appreciate my efforts rendering the WWII Navy SBD-5 Dauntless, and as many had asked me, she wanted to know when I would finish the painting. I told her that I needed to finish it that day if I wanted to claim it as a "En Plein Air" completed work. This was a Friday.
I couldn't continue on Saturday, as it was my wife's birthday. So, I gave the woman my "commercial art" business card and told her that if I didn't finish the painting, to my satisfaction, that I'd return on Sunday, to complete it. But on Sunday, the entire airshow was cancelled due to inclement weather. So, I considered the painting finished. That, was that!
That was that, until I received a phone call from that very woman, who was quite serious about buying the painting. But, when I gave her the $500 price tag for the piece, there was silence. I knew it was not what she hoped to pay for it.
We talked for a few minutes about pricing, and donating, and even discussed an offer from the pilot who flew the plane from its Texas base to the airshow in New Orleans. When I gave him me price, he slowly backed away to ask if I would consider donating it for an auction for the Commemorative Air Force, which, if I was donating it to anyone, the Commemorative Air Force, would certainly be a good cause.
Intrigued, I asked her why would she want a painting, from an airshow, of a vintage WWII bomber and not some wonderful landscape, or a still life vase of flowers, or a ubiquitous bayou scene. It seemed rather a strange thing to hang above a living room sofa.
"You buying it for your husband's"man cave?"
"Not quite, she replied. "I am sixty-one years old and a survivor of a double mastectomy. Later this month, I will have to go to surgery again," she said.
"I saw your painting and it inspired me enough to do a bit of research on that aircraft," she continued. "I read that the plane was past it's prime, obsolete, like me, but it still got the job done!"
"It had qualities I relate to, like it's ruggedness to go the distance." It was slow, but effective, and always there when you needed it. It was dependable!"
I just about came apart.
I told her that my intentions were to bring in, to my booth, some male viewers at the upcoming Three Rivers Art Festival. The little Dauntless was an important part of my research. But then, I thought...
"Oh, Diane, have I got a great video for you!" I said. "You'll love it!"
It is all about this American pilot who, against all odds, in that "old, obsolete dive bomber, dispatched three attacking, top of the line, Japanese A6M-3 Zeros." "And, talk about ruggedness,"I said, "Wait till you see how he shot down the third attacker... You'll love it!"
I could not believe I was recommending a combat video to a woman!. But, I gave her the YouTube url, and promised her that if my Dauntless did not sell for my original asking price, at the art festival this November 14th/15th... An upcoming art festival here in Covington, LA. that I'd sell it to her at a discounted amount we both could agree on.
"And, if I do sell it, I'll paint you another one!"

( Here's the link to the video I sent to Diane! )

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Oh Yeh... You're The P-47 Guy"...

My Plein Air painting of a WWII dive bomber, the Dauntless!
This guy with a big smile and a cap that read, "That's All Brother!" comes up to me while I was struggling to finish my SBD painting before closing time and asks, "Ben Bensen?"
So, I replied in the affirmative. The cap with the saying,"That's All Brother" stitched on it, was from the name of an aircraft, a C-47 Skytrain, that was performing at the airshow. But, the cap gave me no clue as to who he was. I could not understand how he knew me, but I didn't know him. 
I hate when that happens! 

Actually, I really don't. It is rather flattering to know someone knows you, and has some kind of effect, be it negative or positive, from your being alive. But, his bright smile, surrounded and accentuated by a mustache and goatee, seemed to dispel any suspicious thoughts that may have entered into my "dome."
"Hi, I'm Zack Baughman!" You know me from Facebook," he said.
"Facebook, I thought... hmmmm!
Now, all day, folks were coming up to me and my aviation artist friend, Marc Poole, and introducing themselves for one reason or another. ( Both of us got hit up to donate our painting for a "good cause!" ) It truly was a blast and the ultimate ego inflator!

But, this guy, with the infectious personality, really had me stumped until I saw his tee shirt. It was  completely brown with a very familiar, silhouetted picture of a plane silkscreened on it.
"Oh yeh! Yeh... Zack Baughman... I'm sorry. You're "The P-47 Guy!"
( It seems, Zack, has been seen all over the world, and Facebook,  seated in, or standing on, or cuddling up to what is left of the few, big and burly WWII fighter... the P-47 Thunderbolt. )
He politely accepted my goofy reference, and we both had a good laugh before spending the next half hour, or so, chatting away like two long, lost brothers!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Money Laundering... I'm Once Again, Guilty!"

At least, it is clean money!
Good morning, all bodies. It's a Thursday, the last time I checked.
Once again, I'm guilty of money laundering. You'd think by now I would have learned my lesson, but to my surprise and horror, as I walked out of the parking lot to meet some friends, Pat and Bobby Zeller, for breakfast at Russell's Marina Grill, I noticed my wallet was no where in sight.
LIke a good New Orleanian, ( and after a momentary panic! ) I decided to not let relying on the "kindness of strangers"... or friends, ruin the possibility of a great breakfast and good conversation.
I had been ensconced for over four months in St. Francisville working on a film project, and all I could think about, every morning at breakfast, was eating at my favorite place in New Orleans for breakfast. 
"I'll worry 'bout 'dat, lay-dah, I thought to myself."
And I did, until we returned home late yesterday evening. In between innings of a horrible Cub's performance, I raced around searching for the ever elusive wallet, and found it somewhere between the seventh and eigth inning... 
I'm so embarrassed. A special thanks to Bobby Zeller, who completely believed my story, and treated Tee and me to breakfast. I owe you one, Pat and Bobby!
Second cup...!

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Like The Ice Cream Parlor Days"...


“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” ~Yogi Berra

Good morning Wednesday... and everybody that's doing Wednesday, today.
Third cup...
Last night, after dinner, I really wanted to spend more time with Therese. She's always so distracted with school "goings on" and I, now with my continuing storyboard saga. It's been pretty much this way since I returned home from St. Francisville. Tee actually started a batch of clothes in the middle of dinner.
Amongst other things, I am still messing with mom's "estate" such as it is. And every now and then, we run, unexpectedly, back into Brian's life, which sends us into an immediate funk. But, at this time, needing her attention, I said, "Let's go into town, after dinner, and get a ice cream cone and then, go to Magnolia Park, for a walk.
I reiterate Mr. Berra! "“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” 
When we arrive at the little diner that sells ice cream cones, it was closed.
"Who the hell closes their restaurant on a Tuesday?" I mumbled in frustration.
"Let's just go to the store and buy some ice cream," my wife said.
"No, that's not the point. I wanna spend some time with you, like the ice cream parlor days," I replied. 
"We can buy all the ice cream in the world and still sit at home eating it in our distractions!"
So, we thought and thought of where we could buy a simple ice cream on the Northshore. Not the swirly kind in one of those sugar cones, but real ice cream in those huge brown pointed kind of cones. 
We drove about ten more miles to a place where we thought there might be a some true ice cream, but it, " Ain't Dere No More!" to quote a popular post Katrina patois.
We continued for a few more miles looking for a legit ice cream parlor. In the process of our search, we got away from home to spend some quality time together. She opened up to talk about school, the kids, the pressures and other assorted topics like where are we headed and what are our goals for the future. We, also, had a few good laughs, too. 
We ended up at a place in Mandeville where I thought, for sure, there was a Baskin/Robbins, but "NOOOOOOOOO!"
"Ain't Dere No More!"
These are the times when I really miss living in New Orleans, a town that never sleeps. It took us almost an hour, but, we finally found a TCBY store and decided a frozen yogurt would have to suffice.
And it did. And, I got my wife's total attention, for awhile!
Thanks Yogi, you were so right!

Friday, September 18, 2015

"My Storyboard Movie Trailer"...

I've been working, as a storyboard artist, on a feature film for the past four months, so I decided to post part of a version of my "movie trailer" entitled,
"Parting Shots." This film has...


    High speed car chases...

   And, of course, lots of local color and scenic landscapes!
Dirty Laundry...

Romance, 'cuz ya gotta bring the babes in somehow!

And, has lots birds... ornithologists will love this part!

Of course, plenty sex, if the ashtray is any indication!

And humor. A kick in the pants is second only to fart jokes, I've read.

Just gotta have a "kum-ba-ya" sing-a-long moment, too!

And, last but not least, a happy ending... if it ever ends, at all!

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, September 3, 2015

" A Throwback Thursday Thought"...

Guess you better slow that Mustang Down... Sally!

Good morning, everyone. I was looking for something to post for TBT while having breakfast. I found this sample piece in one of my photo files. About ten or twelve years ago, my rep was constantly after me to embrace the computer more than I was, at that time.
This is a sample done in Photoshop with just three pieces. I turned a pic of the San Gabriel mountains into a purple mountain majesty at sunset, a red Mustang that I turn to blue, and a woman I found on a porn channel kissing you goodbye. 
The woman was totally naked. 
I changed everything on her from the original pose and then proceeded to put clothes and accessories on her. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment. My rep got me a potential job with this digital painting, but I thought the art director had no idea what it took for me to complete this piece.
He wanted a price on doing an educational slide show in the digital style. I told him he was crazy. My rep didn't appreciate my comments, but I can't even imagine creating this kind of reality for any more than two or three pieces. 
He wanted like about a hundred.
So, why is this a throwback in addition to a gratuitous plug for my digital acumen? Well, clothing the woman, which was quite fun to do, reminded me of my sisters, especially my older sister, Adele, playing dress up with the Betsy McCall doll. I remember her cutting out that month's fashions from the McCall's magazine and folding those tabs over the cardboard replica of Betsy McCall. 
Talk about a simpler time!
Second cup...

Copyright 2015/ Ben Bensen III

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Pulling Up... In Just The "Nick" Of Time!"

The feeling is enough to give one vertigo!
I always enjoy promoting the art of, what I consider to be, great American illustrators. If you've been around me and Facebook all these many years, you've probably noticed that I enjoy posting and writing about past illustrators that have touched my life in so many ways. Jack Leynnwood, Craig Nelson, Leo Monahan, Mike Machat, Bill Robles, Chris Hopkins, Bart Forbes, Mark English, Keith Farris, Barron Storey, Bob Rodriguez and many, many others have been subjects of my blogs. 
Another one of those greats, is aviation artist, Nixon Galloway. On a C-141 flight to DC, Nick asked me if I was interested in a collection of his watercolor prints from his client, United Airlines. I received the entire collection, except on of his award winning paintings entitled, "Barnstorming".
About six months ago, I got a call from Alyce Heath from the SILA office. She had a professor and professional musician, who teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder, interested in using one of Nick's paintings for his cd cover. He actually saw the piece googling barnstormers and landed on my "Graphic Gumbo 3" site where for months I was highlighting, in a low rez, all the printed works of Nick Galloway and reposting them on our Air Force Art site... just to keep the site active.
Say what you will about those tree hugging, dope smoking "liberals" there in Boulder, but the professor, Mark Rush, knew and respected the sanctity of the copyright law to track me down to receive permission to use Nick's piece. Problem now was twofold. To find the digital artwork that I had which would be useful enough to sell, and to find someone who could receive the fee for the usage of the piece. After a few old phone numbers, I was able to get Nick's wife contact info from Nanette O'Neal at ASAA (American Society of Aviation Artists ) and had a nice conversation with Marilyn Galloway. She was familiar with,"Barnstorming" but told me that she hadn't received any money from the many galleries that supposedly are housing Nick's prints. Sad...
So, I called some of those places only to realize that they wanted their "cut " of the action. Now, I was also the employ of Mark Rush, who was just trying to do the right thing. Through some emails and some phone calls, we settled on a price that was amenable for both parties. I told him that I had a digital print at 300 dpi and that unless he wanted to pay more at a gallery for a print, this scan should suffice. ( Which also brings to mind, the problem of usage. That is, if you own an artist's painting or print, do you have the right to reuse it for profit, like using it for tee shirts, coffee mugs, light switch and electrical covers, posters, labels, or whatever! ) I spoke to his designer and was assured that the scan I had would work beautifully.
I called Mark to assure him that the check would go straight to Mrs. Galloway and I would send him a receipt for the transaction.
Well, life always seems to get in the way of living.
I received the check about two months ago, and it sat in my computer bag for that amount of time. But, just yesterday, while my client was away for half of the day, I decided to take care of this excursion by calling Mrs. Galloway and telling her the whole story. She seemed really grateful and wanted to know if I wanted a share of the check. 
"No, Marilyn, I said, "this warm, fuzzy feeling is worth all the money in the world, right now!" 
We talked some more about the past good times with the Air Force Art Program and the many great trips Nick was privy to, and the great art that came from it. It seemed to me that she was in need of some company and wanted to spend more time chatting. But, after thirty minutes on the phone, I was a bit anxious that my client, who, by now, had returned, would not look favorably on my phone distraction.
"Hey Marilyn, it was great talking to you. Take the money and party at some Manhattan Beach restaurant with some of your pals... or, pay bills. The checks in the mail, lady!"

Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III