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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Asked My Lover For A Microwave Oven For Saint Valentine's Day : I Did Not Get One Yet

Did I get it, well no and I am still waiting .I guess I will be waiting because they claim they love me. But all I want is to try out this recipe for New Orleans Style Microwave Pralines that appears on page 92 of Deb Shriver's book

Stealing Magnolias Tales From A New Orleans Courtyard


1 pound light brown sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup of whip cream
2 tbsp vanilla or rum extract or 1 tbsp Luzianne instant coffee and chicory
2 tbsp butter
2 cups of whole pecans ( preferably toasted )

What is this ? you are getting a little disappointment too because I am not providing cooking instruction which are easy because it is done with a microwave. You know where to find them a few minutes in your local Barnes & Nobel. If I can not have candy, no one gets candy.But we can all look at the book and its' many delightful pictures and stories some about food and other New Orlean lives . Maybe if I beg hard enough someone will make these for me as a Mardi Gras gift .I really hate microwaves,they make us lazy popcorn eaten creatures.

Maybe the old lover was right maybe I should care because they care

Sunday, February 20, 2011

DREAMS : The Children's Hour

This photograph Boy With Foxy Pop by Dawoud Bey intrigues me because I see myself in this little boy. It is hard to believe now, when children are treated as equals or friends who can express an opinion , that 50 years ago you if you were smart in most circumstances you repeated what adults wanted to hear.Not all kids got the message I guess they were the rebels . I was the observer from behind my eyes all I could do was stare. I was funny so funny I would fall off chairs laughing at improbable stories and loose thoughts that made little sense but the stories and laughter were like a drug to others. I was not the class clown there is always an edge.Then at about 45 I grew up. I miss falling off chairs in laughter the most.Laughing out loud too . The thing that remain was that odd sense that others never hearing what I said or what  I really is a mystery..I believe in what I say in the moment and then a new moment comes and I believe again.I like this kid unlike me he doesn't seem fazed by the camera.The picture for me has the contradictions I see in myself formal yet not too hot and cold but not warm

I never thought about living anywhere but Birmingham Alabama when I was a child,not brave enough and my dreams have always been small they could fit in my hand.I could whisper them to me .Love lead me away and when I am asked if I ever dream about returning home.The answer is one of my oldest dreams.Look a house,an entrance,a polished table ,a crystal vase in the vase magnolia leaves this photograph by Sylvia Plachy was taken in 2009 in Pike County Georgia ,leaves by god , dream and placement by me then I left.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

To Kill A Mocking Bird

This blog was started as a satellite of Slowexsposure's and my exhibition Southern Memories in the fall of 2010 down in Concord Georgia. One of the many reasons I design that exhibition was the fact that I see so many photographs ,that touch me , flood me with emotions and memories, good and bad that I would like to share. Creating exhibitions force me to try and speak clearly to a large groups. I wish that the images could make a distinct language but I fear pictures are like words change with pitch.

The first time I read To Kill A Mocking Bird and the first time I saw the movie and the young actors who played in it they came from my home town, Birmingham Alabama.But for the life of me I can not remember how I met Hai Zhang.I know I took him to lunch in the Tower, and we have socialized over the last couple of years yet I still don't remember anything about the first time except when I went to his website
His pictures of a small lazy southern Alabama town amazed me. Here was an outsider who spoke to me and the pitch was right. I felt that place that thing of being exposed while in the shade . That balance between lush and spare All the contradictory moments of being human feeling that you and place are special yet knowing somewhere in some other place , someone is thinking feeling the same.

Hai has undated his website recently and I am still able to read what he is saying

Friday, February 18, 2011


These photographs were taken by Susan Kae Grant Sophie, Rene Effendi and Keith Carter Fireflies

Doing a blog is not easy if you are kinda shy, I stop posting because I have not decided what I want to do or show.I do not want an agenda on my blog maybe I just want to share random thoughts. My memory is a flowing mess so for the past week the lines of a Longfellow poem kept riffing through my head.I know that I learned it in grammar school.What year or day is not important. The opening stanza stays with me and some memorable images of child life that hints at secrets and wonder

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the days occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.