January 9, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut
The Work Of Benjamin Lavender At The Oceanside Museum Of Art
Last night I had the pleasure of taking a trip up to the Oceanside Museum Of Art for the preview reception of “Botanicals: The Photography Of Imogen Cunningham.” She was an early 20th century photographer that, according to the museum’s website, “…played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the medium (photography) as an art form and the growth of modernism.” I’m not sure how that sets her apart from any other photographer of her day, but the reception was still well attended. I would describe her photography at this show as a study in high school assignment still life. Imagine that every high school photography student in the country was given the assignment of photographing plants around their houses, in black & white at a distance of no more than 6 inches and then the best 50 photos were selected to be displayed. What you end up with is a great study of the form of vegetarian nature, but probably nothing that will move you.
Out in the foyer of the museum, where the reception was actually held was an organically themed sculpture display created by San Diego artist, Benjamin Lavender. Now this display is something new and different. The medium for all the sculptures are wine barrels… As in, slats of wood and iron hoops, distorted and mutated beyond all recognition.
Ben is a working artist with what I would call a day job at Barrelly Made It, a San Diego company that creates amazingly unique chairs, tables, benches, ottomans and barstools from California wine barrels. The furniture they produce is unique, handmade and will probably be a driving force in a renaissance of mid-century/danish modern and Eames era style. I really do hope that Herman Miller has spent the last few years of his afterlife weeping because he never thought to use wine barrels to create his style. At any rate, you can see Benjamin Lavender’s art, right through the front windows of the Oceanside Museum Of Art until late May 2011.