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At first glance, the haunting paintings of Benz and Chang appear to be vintage sepia photographs. Upon closer examination, they reveal themselves to be walnut ink drawings rendered by hand on watercolor paper. The figurative paintings portray mysterious narratives that are largely left to the imagination of the viewer. An artist and collector of vintage photographs for decades, Benz wondered when his two interests would eventually meet, and was pleased when they finally did. The paintings utilize the image vocabulary of early 20th Century photographs, and they reward a second or third look with details that can be easy to miss. The figures with crowns, wings, ghost limbs, lights and shadows are meditations on the topics of spirituality, shifting identity, and transformative experiences.

Says Benz, “I see myself as a channel and believe that my job is to align myself with a larger creative impulse and also with the painting itself. I must add that I rarely do this perfectly. During the various steps of making a painting, I will ‘see’ something that belongs in the painting, and I do my best to add it. At times where the decision-making process breaks down, I consult a Magic 8-Ball for direction. The resulting paintings are dreamlike.”

Dave Benz has been a creative person for as long as he can remember and now sees making art as a spiritual practice. He has studied traditional Chinese brushwork with a master calligrapher, designed a number of freely-available paper models, and created a series of self-published art books. The Benz and Chang paintings started in 2013 when Benz decided to experiment playfully with walnut ink at a SHARE arts event. Benz has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 2016 Benz and Chang were awarded a commission by the Regional Arts & Culture Council. More inspiration and adventures are sure to come.

Mr. Chang is a fictional photography studio partner to Mr. Benz. He is a stuffed cat of the stuffed animal variety (not the taxidermy variety). In other words, Chang was sewn from plush fabric and stuffed with a soft batting material by a toy manufacturer. Plush is a fabric whose pile is longer and less dense than velvet pile. Plastic eyes were added along with some other details out of thread, mostly.

Last Updated January 2017