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