Sunday, March 30, 2014

Trudy Benson

As I was heading out the door for a visit recently, I realized I didn't have a buzzer or contact number for the artist — this wasn't the first time. I made my way to Greenpoint anyway to serendipitously find Trudy Benson standing out in front of her studio waving a massive truck into a parking spot. Benson escorted the two men, there to pick up a painting, upstairs as I ran out to grab us a couple of coffees. It was a real Rosencrantz and Guildenstern team doing the dirty work, lubberly escorting the painting down the outdoor staircase in a battle with the early spring wind while absurd questions bounced back and forth between them. Benson appeared calm, like a true painter pro, softly handing out comments while her work nearly but safely made it onto the truck. The painting was getting ready to cross the Atlantic for London where it will join the Saatchi collection and be shown in the exhibit Abstract America, which opens May 20th and runs until September 28th. Our visit was off to a pretty exciting start.

At the beginning of our visit, Benson and I stood closely to her paintings, talking them over, before we each got to work. I was immediately taken by her smart and obsessive explanations of various color and material choices: why some paint brands won over others, what blue had recently made it to the top of her list, and how she arrives at the different kinds of "tube to canvas" mark making that gives her paintings such subtle line variation. Benson's canvases seem to be bravely showing their whole selves to the viewer at once in order to fully bare their perfectly teetering compositional qualities and brilliant color unions. I  began to realize while I was drawing what great satisfaction I get from seeing large things made small and small things made large. Like Oldenburg's floor-burger; it makes art of parody and humor. Benson's overgrown brush strokes and chroma turned 3D create a canvas that acts like a hyper real version of itself. For me, it personifies paint, like Claes did the burger; and satiates my hunger for art. 

There was a lot of catching up to do as though we had been meeting like this for years. We shared favorite comics, color combos, and cat positions. And of course talked extensively of her super silky graphite grey cat Lucy. Important to many of my visits with women, we also discussed our feelings on the position we have in the art world; the struggles, awkward situations, and need for getting one another's back. It was so nice to occasionally take a break to talk to her husband, Russell Tyler, who is also a painter and shares a space next to hers. They make a great team and recently put a show together titled SHORTHAND that is currently up at DCKT until April 19th. And if you are in LA this Summer, Benson is in a group show at ACME titled OK GREAT THANKS THIS IS SO RIDICULOUS, open from June 7 until July 12. To see more of Benson's awesome work go to Lisa Cooley.


  1. I enjoy reading articles that are straightforward and appeal to some of us who don't know all the "art speak". Always a pleasure reading the latest Pencil in the Studio. (Cat drawing is awesome)

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