Thursday, June 16, 2011


The photography to the right is by Elizabeth Avedon a very fun and down to earth woman ,who has on occasion made me smile and laugh even.This an picture taken with a lot of respect.I look at this blog and realize I haven't posted in weeks. The reason is that I have been working on a few new projects to be announce soon

Well I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer

New words and images will be here soon

Monday, April 18, 2011


I opened Joanna's portfolio and these were the first photographs I saw. My first question was "did you touch anything ? " thing

Friday, April 15, 2011


Celebrating time and acquaintances, today I realized that another Photolucida was taking place as a new exhibition was opening in the Washington D C area. Today is an Anniversary. The very first time I reviewed portfolios at Photolucida I met this very wonderful photographer, no not that one. I met Joanna Knox who amazed me because she came to really show her photographs and talk ask questions , this was refreshing she wanted no gallery, no book deals there was not a burning need to climb the ladder to being a photographic super star. She loved making pictures and at some point way later, months , I mentioned Slowexposures which she enter and became a supporter of ,more than that. Joanna became a friend. I see her each fall and it is fresh again. She is now Joanna Knox Yoder. I met a lot of people in Portland that year none more inspiring than Joanna

I hope that her new exhibition entitled Seen and Unseen which opens this Sunday April 17 at The Athenaeum Gallery in Alexandria VA is the start of many wonderful things for her.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As I Was Saying " There are 8 Million stories in the Naked City "

There are 8 million stories in the naked city, this may be 8million and 1. A joyous one because the photographs engage you not only with their beauty ( I know already it is subjective ) but they provoke you to think about the city's image in historical terms and then those images in relationship to Janine's earlier mentors Atget and Abbott who also recorded great cities under going change.


illustrates how to create and add to the conversation that has been in progress since photography began. I feel that even though the subject has sat for pictures before these photographs have the jazzy energy and frantic pace of a young woman experiencing and recording the city in the 21st century. Intimate and personal
daily ,if you live in the city you know these reflected moods , these small bits of space, that tourist may not linger in while they rush to the next must see.

By making unique paper negatives and printing small (11 X 14) in high contrast Janine has created a visual staccato a glittery sound is being made like a jewel that need great darkness,she provides both These can only be made by her it is her story in the 8 million and one .

Would it not be wonderful to see what other photographers are saying about the city now, that is New York , my dear

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There Are 8 Million Stories

In the golden era of black and white television there was a program called
THE NAKED CITY , based on a forties film noir of the same name. It open with a voice saying "There are 8 million stories in the naked city this has been one of them" this moral warning was repeated at the end. Maybe it was from watching this show , but when it came time for me to start to look at colleges to attend the first place that was forbidden for me to even consider was New York.

New York was never a destination for me but I guess it is maybe a little part of the dreams of being an artist especially in the sixties when New York replaced Paris, as the center of the Art world. Manhattan Island which is one of five boros is also the smallest measuring about 14 by 2.5 miles ,yet with it gleaming spires and cathedrals of commerce it represent to most the City of New York. There is this raw energy the constant changing . I think it was me who said New York stays the same because it is always changing. Lately this seems more true in 2008 more than 426 new building were being built.It stopped for a while but now many neighborhoods
and the skyline itself are changing.

I love the City because it is easy to get around in part of that raw energy is a many level public transportation system.This freedom of movement is only challegened when people plan events on the same evening and usually starting at the same time.This can cause delicate me to go into shock from having to chose between friendship and the best canapes.Most of the time I wind up in a ball afraid to leave the house. This scenario happened last Saturday when two events were being held at the same time but at a distance.

Amazingly,I decided to be a better person ,do the right thing and in the end I was rewarded with a most pleasant evening. My choice was to go to a senior exhibition on East 71st Street at Marymount Manhattan College to support the fabulous Janine Noelle .I must say fabulous is a word I do not like so it is stressful to use it but Janine does have her moments.

I got there an hour early so I was able to see the show and spend time with the artist and some of her family.The exhibition which was simply installed in a white room with some mirrored walls and a bold black and white marble floor which could have drained or distracted from the photographs presentation but didn't. Everything was in harmony

"New York New York"," big city of dreams'' taking your picture is a challenge, what does an artist do, is it a landscape or a portrait, is it sitting still or moving,do you rely on the human presence ? The city has a personality that wants to control its' own image it demands to give input into the making because there is always a need to reshape the iconic.Somewhere in my mind ring the words" I am ready for my close up". Remember the eight million stories. I was wowed by Janine take on this aggressive yet quiet city of many shadows.These picture celebrate the neighborhoods.There are 20 images in the show .The first one in this post is Gramercy, followed by Chelsea ,Midtown East, Midtown West , Chelsea, and Harlem.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I have mentioned before about struggling with this blog. One of my issues is vocabulary and the other being grammar, yet I write on.

It is remarkable how few words I used to convey any idea that maybe simmering inside of me. The other day looking at Zach Burden's Flick'r site, I saw this photograph LIVE ON AIR in bright red neon. In my sugar induce stupor I read "live on air"and started to laugh thinking this is better than "let them eat cake" when I sobered up and rethought about it Live On Air made the most sense then I felt real silly so the word for today is heteronym and it has nothing to do with sex .

I still feel a bit warm and fuzzy about my first reading I can visualize an imperious being saying this in a dark modern fairytale. The words hanging in the midair we are suppose to live on. I do believe in the idea that there is some goodness in all of us . If you can, I feel a good way to help others now is by visiting Life Support Japan. where a group of artists have committed their photographs to help raise funds for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I am always saying that the photographic art community is there when funds are needed .Each artist is donating an edition of 10 printed on 9 x11 paper for 50 dollars.

Some nationally known artists have donated but over all there are good photographs supporting a immediate cause and to participate is inexpensive so please check it out.The site is updated every few days

Sunday, March 27, 2011

There Should Always Be Magic

Spring sends me into a frenzy of anticipation checking every blade, bud and shoot for that precious second when green comes to life. I shiver in excitement. I can barely walk because my eyes are darting trying to see that transformation, that trick. I think that nature has planned it so that it only happens when I asleep.I awake to another green world

Today is the day that is my actual birth date but not the official one .Of course this has lead many people to wonder was I really born. I use to celebrate my birthday whenever I needed to cheer myself up or needed a excuse to receive gifts or an excuse for a party and gifts.

Everyday can be a birthday, so 40 years ago I decided to do an official birthday as part of my Lenten denials , I gave up celebrating my birthday until Easter Sunday.There have been some great celebrations nothing pushes you like denial.I dye a few eggs buy a little chocolate and do a basket and then I am off hopping down some bunny trail. Speaking (typing ?) of bunny hopping one of the best celebration happened at a party in my home.There was a time when I would give myself a party, it is a control thing. My oldest friend (he hates to be called this) decided to surprise me and came to my house on a Sunday afternoon dressed in white tie, rabbit ears and tail, carrying a basket with 40, 9 inch solid chocolate bunnies and a single white chocolate one..What a surprise ! why because this friend is not into spectacle.

I still can not figure how he left his home and got to mine.

You may not believe it but it was magical for me, it made me sooo happy . Love is magical or maybe it was the I don't have anything else to do today.concept, but it was for me.

How we see and how we relate to light and image and smell , scent (O flowers, Ivory soap oranges ,peppermint, Juicy Fruit gum and Christmas trees ) and sound , I am drifting here.

The day I first saw this photograph it reminded me of the great Duane Michaels ... it made me wonder how do artists choose what to do ? My thoughts, 5 seconds tops

Once again I am using a photograph by the artist Zach it is an image of magic/illusion and I am sure there is a simple and sensible explanation of how it was made, but isn't it better just to see the magic ,it brings a smile which can be the best magicial gift of all

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Screaming Fire !

After lunch yesterday ( a very long lunch )that included visiting a few galleries and discussing Southern cuisine especially the choice of wet or dry ribs and the importance of sides and being mindful of Glenn Ligon's exhibition at the Whitney, while battering about the myth of the vampire I happened to mention in passing,the tradition I started for my siblings of setting the house on fire.I don't know if it was the gleam in my eyes or the passionate and hysterical tone in my laugh that most people ask me not to do, whatever.

It is a part of history

My Mother's Blue Mirror Tables and How A Tradition Began.

As a kid I use to spend a great deal of time watching Catholic Mass on television . An aside do we have to say Catholic and mass does any other religion have mass ? The big thing here that even as a kid I was totally caught up in the glamour of ritual. The moment my parents left the house for any good amount of time I immediately gather up all the blue mirror tables all the movable mirrors in the house and every candle and match and a few statues usually the Daphne and Dauphin of France then would create a respectable spectacle for my three younger brothers.

I also at that time had a great fetish for billowing draperies .I hope this picture come before your eyes, spring day gentle breezes dark and shadowy room shafts of mirror light and reflections wafting around the room, across the ceiling , giggling and awed kids singing if I remember it was either an Elvis or Johnny Mathis .

I am in heaven

Keep that picture in mind and think of the potential.There was a U-tube clip of some teenager screaming about a tornado that I saw today. Picture me running out of the house into the streets screaming Fire Fire Fire the house is on Fire in a jokey panic pitch.

It took a while for me to convince my parents it was not me who set the fire,I was the good child . So I saw this image by a young photographer on Flicker I was going to use it for my birthday post it is kinda magical for me. So magical I decided I could not wait.

I find Flicker to be like running a marathon and their picture a day to be a way to become stressed . Zach titled this photograph

do you really want to live forever ? : FOREVER YOUNG. I think this is a fitting title for this moment in my life.On the eve of a birthday it is a question that needs no answer. It is spring and it is the time we began to see new life, we see the possibilities in life, the forming of new ideas new discoveries, the joy of being alive . is the place to find many more of Zach images, It too is like early spring,

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Sitting here today thinking that I should call one of my younger brothers ,we were born two years and three days a part. As usual I had to think about it a lot ... for years we were the only two to live together until other children started to appear.I was not happy with the first ,and then more. My brother and I lived in mortal combat outside the eyes of adults. Adults are so without a clue. Funny thing my mother use to dress us as if we were twins.
Of course this was a strange joke only she understood since I was thin and tall and he the total opposite.I think she wanted to keep us from fighting.It did not work I think we were locked in a eternal battle for love. He became a famous musician in our home town.So many people claim to be his brother that left for New York, That I have to carry around a letter to say that I am the brother.I on the other became the lone wolf party guy who hides in his home.

Were we ever related ? We both have the charming traits of Aries and the fault too of not being able to focus to finish because we see resolution .

While pondering this phone call and whether it was necessary to make my day better,I received an email from Rena Effedi, a sign, I am sure.

One of my favorite images from the Hearst 8x10 is a little boy banging on a drum in an abandoned building ,Which today made me think even more of my young brother. So I made that called, and now before the clock strikes midnight I complete this blog post and say
Happy Birthday !!!

On another note one thing all my brothers and sisters did after me was set the house on fire

I was the first I am an Aries

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This is still a monologue about beauty or at least the awareness of it.

A tangent/defining moment in a number of novels comes when a small photograph is revealed a lot of times the protagonist has hidden it. In these novels it seems that men have a study where no one can enter with locked drawers and hidden keys. In the silence of this holy space filled with books and leather and tobacco and the smell of male there is a picture. Here alone and with great ritual he carefully and lovely studied a image that would bring a grown man too tears.

credits for these images from the top : George Rodger, center John Patrick Dugdale, bottom : Phyllis Galembo.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Recently, maybe because of the art fairs going on in New York some of my discussions have been centered around ideas of beauty and desire . These words have few universal meanings that we all can agree on . They are spiked with a truth that sometimes reveal too much.

One of the argument in Plato's Symposium is that beauty is truth.Truth is beauty.Which raise the question, whose truth ? A lot more about this in future musing. It is often said by others that I tend to favor the image that is simple non demanding maybe sentimental even,I tend to think that I do not want confrontation in my home ,I do not want pictures that fight me, why ?

I think of my collection , like I feel about my lovers we do not have to talk, but after being together for a while there is always something revealed in the silence.A comfort, a question it doesn't scream but you notice and respond .Light moving across surface maybe that is a secret language we are forgetting.

So the other day after a screaming match with someone about another non-subject time and place(really why we did not see each other at 2 oclock).The discussion turned to photographs I am looking at and a new argument started about these two.I feel they are beautiful. They are both formal and have ties to art history that is immediate .They both have back stories but I will speak about only one.

The portrait is by Deborah Luster's from her Opus One Big Self.A series of portraits taken in the Angola Prison Farms over a period of time the photographs evolved,they started out seeking answer to a terrible tragedy and ended empowering the sitters,If I remember the story correctly this prisoner would stand at the edge of the photo sessions quiet and shy... but he attended them all, never saying anything until one day he spoke , he wanted his picture taken ... but felt Deborah would not be interested because of his scars.She was but did not want to offend and so here we have a extraordinary beautiful picture of a beautiful man.

I once model for Mark Kessell an artist that created a group of images called The Stranger Inside. So many images were made of me that his gallery asked for him to stop most of the images were not recognizable just blips of light and shadow on a silver plate funny people how knew me, knew my spirit a lot of these images went into museum collections.The one I kept is the one that say most definitely you are looking at John.There is a sadness that hint at the 19th century

We never know, I sometimes think, how can we see who others really are.Is it the perfect exterior,their acts.Being A big Picture of Dorian Gray feeling neither tells the whole story. I lay around most of the time like a guarded shape shifter, the public person being very out going. Remember, new nick name Big Happiness, may only be a public mask.and then again maybe not.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Storytelling : part 2

A little more about Sleepers when I first saw the images I felt as if I was invited into this world .

It was like being trapped in a very good film, the last reel finish and you are shock that you had lost yourself into another's reality and now it is time to leave.

Here are six more images from The Sleepers.

The images that I worked with in the exhibition are slightly larger than 20 x 24 inches. because of the enlargeing there is a a fine grain which gives each photograph a painterly quality or that odd feel of older cinema.

Today there is in the New York art and photography worlds a very hated word it is subjective, it is about personal feelings, we all struggle with it .What can creates such dread ?


I feel that Victor Yuliev SLEEPERS are not only good photographs with meaning ,empathy and maybe a bit of mystery. I feel that they are beautiful and tell a good story.

please Google Victor Yuliev or visit Hearst

Monday, March 7, 2011


Once upon a time a sweet clueless kid came to New York and the good fairy Serendipity made his life even more dream like.Was there a happy ending ? The story is still being written between parties and canapes and glasses of Lillet and champagne. There are stops for tears and doubt, moments for friends and celebrations of life.

A few years ago one of my southern friends who has lived here for a while decided to have a picnic in the park. All the guest who sat down on the grass on a carpet that lazy summer eve were either from Alabama or Louisiana maybe one other state.We were sitting by a small lake there were fireflies and children's laughter, softly in the distance.The world was golden

A cousin or maybe a play cousin of our beloved hostess brought about 30 lbs of fantastic bbq-ribs , carried lovingly for us on a plane that very sameday. The conversation was what you would expect from smart and passionate people, there was no need to explain as we swap stories and told jokes of Home, we spoke the same language

Do you ever stop and say to yourself , life is to good,why do I deserve this ? I am happy, my life is usually cushioned yet that does not mean I do not understand others suffer. So on this near perfect summer evening surrounded by friends and the world being wonderful everyday or so I like to think it is, a perverse wave of empathy creep into my head.

I had to stop and remind everyone that a revolution could come any minuet,we could all become less than we are just by accident.let us be grateful and not forget.

So why all these rambling words?Southerns are storytellers we sometimes think that the tradition is ours alone. Not always true, but sometimes when I hear people say they tell stories with their pictures I wonder do they. Maybe they give us the images to complete make the story.

These thoughts came to mind when I saw a group of images submitted to the 2011 Hearst Biennial by a photographer from Moscow named Victor Yuliev. His body of work "Sleepers" told a complete story from the first image until the last each of the 16 jpegs was an intricate part of his story about tents that are set up in parks around St.Petersberg for the homeless to have a place to go at night.

In sixteen photographs from the hulking tent to the movement of someone entering and all the expressions of the people who shared the tent we are made conscience of humankind, the suspicion, the resignation ,the acknowledgement, the gathering of tribes to spend a night against a very harsh winter. One can almost feel the closeness,damp and smoky.can hear the sound faint mutterings,singing, out bursts whimpering. The state of emotions that the homeless can acquire after a time on the street like paranoia and delirium. But there is also maybe hope and belief ... tomorrow.

Victor has told a complete story in the best tradition of photojournalism.I look at these images and understand there is more than one golden light.This work touch me in some deep hidden chamber of my inner world.

Not only did the 10 judges of the Hearst 8x 10 chose Victor's group of pictures, he won The Best international entry award for War On Wants in Document Photography.

please read these images from bottom to top

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I used to visit someone in my early teens, some afternoon occasionally on my visits I would hear beautiful, melacholic music. Now it seems a curious thing because I never asked about it.The sound floated about the room slowly and with much thought, when it ended I became very sad and quiet yet strangely fulfilled. It was haunting and stately I felt there was a beautiful greyness in its' measured chords .Then one day quite by accident I heard it was a pavane a type of dirge . I still listen to it and over years have acquired a number of versions which when played always make me feel a little sad and little sorry for the dead baby princess and a little sad for me and you too.

I saw this photograph by an artist name Kenneth Goldberg , his first solo March 4 - April 2
at Espresso77 please visit

the exhibition is

La Beauté Sombre
The Beauty in Darkness

This image remind me of those moments of grey, waiting until the evening ,the night,the day,
a pavane for transition

Saturday, February 26, 2011

AKA : I answer to the name John , but who am I ?

Over the years I have had many names besides John. Re naming began in middle school when some of my classmates started to call me Doc Allen, I think it was a Gunsmoke thing which followed me into high school and evolved in to CC short for Constantine Christian long explanation and thankfully short lived.Then there that other short lived life of Constantina Josephina Della Maria Trent do ,you really want to know just saying it makes one breathless. I came to New York in the era of Andy Warhol , the Factory, Max's and the glorious decadent 60-70 . A brave supervisor who lived in the suburbs of New Jersey and listened to Lou Reed gave me the nickname mrbenet superstar , which was shorten to just mrbenet which still hangs around as my name. 1999 mrbenet got a nickname for the new millennium johnny love from the same source. Much to my surprise last night at dinner a famous American photographer called me by the name of BIG HAPPINESS , I think I like that name, I make even keep it see how it goes.

It is so, not me, it makes a perfect ironic disguise

While at that dinner I received an invitation by the Kentucky born photography Raymond Adams who had some images in the Southern Memories Exhibitions .On March 9 2011 in New York he will have a solo exhibitions called New York At Dawn. I am excited and happy when an artist I know gets a chance for more people to see his work.The title reminds me of the swirling music by Gershwin and the taste of brandy and lipstick and cigarettes as we giggle and tiptoe home on a Saturday night clutching the Sunday New York Times .For many years when mrbenet went late from his job he was sent uptown in a taxi and saw many a New York dawn cruising along the East River or the Hudson River Drive ... cue piano and saxaphone as he sinks into the backseat of a private car alone

If you cannot be here, find that moment , on Ray's website www. or visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Than A Clown

This is not the post I intended for today. Most of us grow up with a list of cliches that we hear and sometimes agree with. I decided to change my post today and show you this elegant clown/ringmaster, if memory serves me right it was taken in a small circus in Santa Fe New Mexico if memory has failed it doesn't matter. It is what this clown represents to me because I know the photographer and this image like many she as taken (the emphasis is on many) is part of a great story of reinventing her life many times seeing the bright side in darkness, looking at the bigger picture, feeling that there is a silver cloud.I keep copies of this image sitting around my home as an inspiration to me about all the possibilities of life. Life in some ways is like a circus.You see feats of bravery and daring . You see things that amaze and are death deifying , surprise, suspense and laughter,the bright and beautiful, the exotic Today I want to say this clown represents to me a tenacious woman who is strong and has a passion for life, he sings of hope and miracles that rises from the human heart into heaven.

Perfect Word : DREAMS

Driving down I95 and what do you spot looming out of the boredom and madness of green and kudzu a discreet red brick building with severe decoration, a parking lot and the word in capital letters DREAMS do you continue driving at cruising speed ,or u-turn and drive back.I never ask Gordon Stettinus how he made the choice to take this picture but I am glad he did. Gordon and I met back in one of the first potfolio reviews I did portfolio. He was and still is a person of many characters and though the portfolio I reviewed at that time was different from what he does now, remember he is an artist...I never forgot his images and the approach he took to communicate with them.Long story short I finally got a chance to use some in Southern Memories I wanted to use signage so I started to search websites Gordon's is visit, it is a lot of fun , eyecaramda had a lot of images that I wanted to use.but most of the signs were from the west or the southwest.I was looking for signs that left you wishing for answers not laughing about missteps in ideas or educations.

Something grounded in reality maybe, I understand the Southern tradition of photographing words in loose sentences and associations, but I was looking for lean abstraction. And there it was DREAMS , without modifiers the word allows you to muse which is a wide awake form of dreaming.There is no bad so we avoid nightmares It is just dreams.

I like to believe and the artist gives me room here to see a cool blue neon for dreams, in truth the word is probably red-orange or magenta at night. I like the way the picture is divide into 3 the sky, the little building and a place to park. So what lies behind the doors and formally placed windows and lights... dreams ,maybe a bit of heaven in 7 1/2 minutes ?

When installing the exhibitions I surrounded the photographs within a group of images that reflect other sense of dreams too.I would like to thank Donna Rosser for this second image of the hanging of Southern Memories with an aside, this photograph by won a place in another group show latre last year.