“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.”
The earliest explorers brought artists along with them to document their journeys. Captain Cook brought John Webber to Australia, Fitzroy brought along Conrad Martens to South America, and even William Bartram brought his sketch journal with him to Florida, documenting new species of plants and animals. With the advent of camera phones, everyone is snapping pictures everywhere, but it seems like they’re not really seeing anything. When sketching you spend hours observing everything, capturing a moment in time, and all the details that go with it.
When drawing a boat on the Mekong, I not only sketch the boat, but the story that goes with it. The husband and wife washing their dishes, a potted plant roped to the deck, the children bouncing around with no fear of water, and even a kitten they keep on board. That’s the beauty of sketching. For the artist, years later you can look back at that drawing, and be transported back to that place and time.
This exhibit showcases sketches I made during a nine-month journey throughout Asia, capturing daily life in eleven countries, from the Philippines to China. The framed sketches are not finished illustrations, but en plein air sketches. In their rough state, they present a raw energy and spontaneity. During my journey, I toted my trusty sketchbook with me everywhere: I managed to sketch 90 feet under the ocean’s surface, get chased by orangutans through the Sumatran jungle, and was poked by children everywhere. If you life in Philadelphia, or near by, stop on by and check them out. Enjoy some wine and cheese while you are here too.
Michael Bencik is an illustrator and graphic artist who has been working in Philadelphia for the last 19 years. Starting in toy design, he has worked in everything from children’s illustration, sequential art, graphic design, and art direction. He writes and illustrates about new travel spots near and far, as well as historic preservation, art and design. He has restored numerous Victorian homes in Philadelphia, and is the cofounder of Bencik Enterprises.
November 9, 2015
5 PM to 7 PM
Gold Standard Cafe
4800 Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Show runs for all of November, 2015