Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Junta.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I never had any intention of going into the arts. I was not the kid who grew up drawing all the time. I was into sports, skateboarding, dreaming of rock climbing, figuring out how to live as a future ski bum, etc. I was not raised in a family that had any artists or musicians or any such role models, no funky crazy aunts or uncles – but rather all fairly status quo. I played a year of college football at Middlebury College in New England, but being California born and raised, I transferred back to college in California due to the seemingly never-ending frigid East Coast winters. Although I ultimately graduated from Occidental College here in Los Angeles, I first spent one quarter at UC Davis. It was there where my art introduction occurred. For the general ed requirement, I needed to take a “creativity” class, and I somehow chose a black and white basic drawing course. I honestly didn’t think about it much at the time in the sense that this could possibly be my life path. But I was extremely fortunate to have Squeak Carnwath as my first art professor. It was one of those rare times where a person’s life is forever changed. I was both captivated and intimidated by this class and this teacher. I really felt out of my element, but at the same time, there was this magnetic, strange and even sensual energy that I was feeling. It was all so new and unknown. None the less, I was still really intimidated by this new mysterious door that had opened. Once at Occidental College, I tried to shut the door by also taking a degree in International Relations, but by the time graduation was near I knew that somehow, some way, my life would be an unknown walk in the arts. I was also fortunate to later study under some extremely influential professors at the Santa Fe Art Institute (Wolf Kahn), The Vermont Studio Center(John Walker, Bernard Chaet), and the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, MA.
Please tell us about your art.
While history is obviously made up of constantly changing time periods, one can fairly argue that with the advent of the cell phone and social media, we are living in a time when information is shared and spread faster than ever. Ultimately, this can be reduced to the concept of a type of energy itself, and that energy is now obviously moving at a faster rate than ever before between people. And amidst such energy, we all still carry on with daily jobs, social interactions, relationships, etc. Increasingly, so many of us feel overwhelmed by the speed at which so much of life is being led. The work I am doing relates to the concept of this energy and how it moves, how it feels, and how we may feel relative to earlier conceived constructs of living our day to day lives. The work seeks to uncover the depths of how I fit into all this. I am searching, excavating to find intuitive ideas, layers of identity that help me self-reflect and make sense of the times we live in.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
In general, due to the internet and social media, I think conditions for artists today are vastly improved. The online presence and social media available to artists today give the artist much more power to get their work seen by the public. But it does take a new mindset for all parties involved, and we are constantly seeing new ways in which this is all unfolding. How an artist chooses to embrace or take charge of their own career can make all the difference in the world, although this isn’t something that comes naturally to many artists. Let’s be honest – just because an art gallery may have a stable of 20-30 artists doesn’t mean they have the time to properly represent each one of those artists, and so it really is up to the individual artist to make sure that they get the notice and viewing they want and may deserve. Having said all that, the gallery system is alsohaving to adapt to this new internet world, as we all are, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I think all cities need the presence of gallery and museum spaces in which the general public is able to truly interact in person with art visually. Ideally, our public leaders and those in positions of influence will understand that the arts themselves are inherent to healthy cultural dialogue, and as such will continue to find new financial sources to help fund the arts as a healthy benefit to the collective culture (example – The Broad Museum, regardless of your position towards the space itself, absolutely gives the public a way to see a plethora of artistic voices and expressions all in one location. Such an institution may inspire one kid to reach for the creative stars, or it may inspire one teacher to rethink the way they are presenting learning materials to their classes, and as such, lives are forever changed in positive ways). But I also believe artists have the power to collectively organize and get their expressions seen or heard in all sorts of new, unique and alternative ways. We are in the midst of rapidly changing ways in which art is disseminated to the public. I hope that cities, both large and small, facilitate new and changing ways in which the general public can experience the arts in person in all the varied forms. Obviously the key is funding, but too, we need passionate voices to facilitate the expression as to WHY the arts are essential. For without the arts and without the artists I wonder who is left to attempt to portray the human condition on this planet we humans call home?
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work can be seen on my website at www.benjunta.com.
Studio visits can be scheduled at the Beacon Arts Building in Inglewood where I keep a studio. Commissions are also available.
I can be followed on Instagram at both @benjuntaart and @benjuntaphoto)
For inquiries, I can be contacted at (650) 799-0525 or email@example.com
My work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions including: The Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy; the Vermont Studio Center; The Santa Fe Art Institute; Stanford Art Spaces, Stanford University;Hale Arts Space, Santa Monica, CA; The Palos Verdes Art Center, Palos Verdes, CA; Siren 6500, Hollywood, CA; SPACE Arts Center, South Pasadena, CA; Resin Art Space, Hermosa Beach, CA; Bryant Street Gallery, Palo Alto, CA; Sharon Park Gallery, Menlo Park, CA. The work is in both private and corporate collections.
1525 Aviation Blvd #330
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
- Website: www.benjunta.com
- Phone: 650-799-0525
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @benjuntaart
- Other: @benjuntaphoto