By P.K. Greenfield
It’s certainly no revelation that creative people see the world through a different prism than the great masses. That’s a given. We’re lucky when they share their gift, vision, insight, or even just a glimpse into something we don’t fully comprehend. Here is the story of one such artist, Ben Moon, and his creative journey as well as how the planets are lining up for him.
Ben Moon walked into a pop-up gallery in Lower Manhattan wearing a stark white t-shirt, blue jeans and nondescript sneakers. His presence and appearance were the perfect contrast against his intricate, colorful and cryptic work — mostly oil paintings — that figuratively and optically leaped off the walls.
That was several years ago.
Today, his work has been exhibited in many galleries, displayed on a classic car and observed in public venues and spaces throughout the city and beyond. He has a dedicated following of admirers and collectors while the oft cliquish and insular art world keep one eye closed and the other, well, on the Moon.
Here is what Millennium Magazine recently discovered.
HIJO DE LA LUNA
“The first memory I have was picking up a pencil and start drawing. I grew up in a family of three boys and our parents were sort of Hippies – we didn’t’ have a lot of gadgets and electronic entertainment in the house, so I used my imagination to entertain myself,” said Ben.
The native New Yorker forged into his studies and education on a straight and narrow path majoring in business, that is, until a car accident. It careened his career plans off track and completely changed his life’s direction. “I had a near-death experience and flat-lined. I broke almost every bone in my body and was hospitalized for a long period of time. Something like that comes with a major impact on your psyche. The upside of the experience is that it gave me the time to think about what really matters…”
Like a flash, the dominant part of his personality and passion for playing sports became inverted with his creative side and the more introspective aspects of his personality. This epiphany or transition occurred from a direct result from the car accident and Ben’s road to recovery. It most certainly can be seen in various details of his work.
I asked Ben to talk about what and who inspires his creativity. “I draw from a lot of things and other artists as well, you can probably see elements of Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat and I try to include various layers in my work. Mass media imagery has also taken a role in my work. I like it when the viewer creates a story out of the piece,” he said.
“Furthermore, I’m influenced by people outside of the art world, Bruce Lee for example, I read his book “TAO of Jeet Kune Do” when I was really young. Part of Lee’s philosophy is to live like water and be flexible and just let everything flow all around you. Water can cover any obstacle, fit into any container or be as hard as a brick wall. I try to keep that concept in mind when I create so I take what works from every different style or genre and I use whatever gets the best results.”
WAXING AND WANING INTO OTHER PROJECTS
Recently Ben was a participant at Art Basel, a prestigious international art fair that originated in Basel, Switzerland and has spread to other major cities like Miami and Hong Kong. This platform helps artists to showcase and sell their work while providing them with access to collectors, museum directors and curators.
Ben has branched out into the apparel industry. Gabriela Pires is a fashion designer based out of Miami whose work has been seen on the major runways and in Sports Illustrated among other venues and outlets. Together with Ben they are bringing to market a distinct collection of swimwear, scarves, shirts and more. “It’s been a really good collaboration into a field that I’ve never worked before, I provide the art work and Gabriela does the designs and has the attire manufactured.”
Another genre that Ben has put his stamp on is nightclubs and lounges. If you are into the rave or nightlife set, there is a good chance that you saw his digital projections gracing the arena, DJ booth, jumbo screens and dance floor.
“I’ve realized that I am spending more and more of my time in front of computer screens and I’ve basically taken from my collage work. The same technique has been carried over into technology. With a friend of mine, we’ve created a tool for DJs that takes my images and mixes them in real-time via projectors,” he said. “The outcome is a living, ever-changing version of one of my paintings in the club.”
TAKING ART TO THE STREETS
He has murals throughout the city including the West Side Community center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was organized by City Arts to help beautify the community and it gave neighborhood kids the chance to help in the creative process — sketching, drawing and painting. Kids from the age of seven to nineteen were involved in the conception of the work and all the way to its completion. The mural’s centerpiece is a tree that transpires from the painting to a real tree that changes with the seasons as it jets up from the top of the block-long wall.
“That was a great experience,” he offers. “It was commissioned by the city and City Arts. This organization works all around the world with outdoor paintings in Latin America, Europe and plans for the next one, I believe, is scheduled in Israel. Currently I am working with young people, painting a mural titled “Let’s Play Games” in Woodmere, Long Island. It’s been a lot of fun to work in this community and the mural should be complete by summer.”
When asked what career he would have chosen if he wasn’t an artist. Ben takes a reflective moment and responds, “I would have been a teacher. My mom was a teacher and when we are out in public, I’ve witnessed so many of her students over the years come up to her and say how she inspired and helped their lives. They are now adults who she taught when they were little kids. I think that is pretty amazing.”
Sometimes it takes a total eclipse of your life to understand your purpose in this world.
Discover more about Ben Moon here: http://www.worldofbenmoon.com.