The first time I ever saw any of Benny Sanders artwork was in a show a few years ago at the Indianapolis Art Center. Benny had just decided to get back into the art world after about a ten year break during which he pursued a number of other activities. I remember that the moment I entered the gallery where his work was hanging I had the distinct feeling that whoever had created this work had been a painter in other lifetimes. There were large, misty landscapes as well as portraits in charcoal that captured the soul of the person in the frame. From that time on, it’s been a secret journey of mine to watch the trajectory of Benny’s work, and I must say that I haven’t been able to shake off the feeling that I am seeing pieces that were created by someone who has done this before.

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This is why I am so excited about Benny’s upcoming show called,”Ricochet”, which will appear in the Harrison Gallery during the month of June. The first thing you should know about the name of the exhibit is that Benny is proud to say he stole it from artist Kyle Ragsdale after a conversation they were having about the work they are doing for upcoming shows. The name refers to the fact that this show will “bounce around” from piece to piece showing different projects that the artist has been pursuing during his career. It won’t necessarily seem as cohesive an exhibit as you might expect, but a retrospective of the various styles and goals that he has experimented with and learned from. As such, it promises to be a thought provoking display. 

Though he graduated from Herron with a degree in printmaking, as a painter he is largely self-taught. What I find to be exciting about Benny’s work is how devoted he is to painting and to learning as much as he can about painters of the past and their techniques and styles. As my eye travels from piece to piece in his studio, I feel I am not only looking at beautiful individual works of art, but at chapters in the story of what he’s been interested in and what he has chosen to study. Painting is not easy. The beautifully framed and curated show that we see hanging in the gallery started as a struggle in the studio. Benny feels that his success has come by continually pushing through failure.  As a result, each of his paintings are infused with the emotions of the moment, reading like pages from his diary. 

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The show hangs through June 28.