From country living in California to snowy Spokane, artist Ben Joyce has always had a connection to ‘place’. Being one of eight kids, Ben grew up outdoors and feels like he has been an artist for as long as he can remember. His mom would tell him that his art comes from “a little man in his head that creates the pieces and he puts the art on paper”. Specializing in “Abstract Topophilia (love of place) Art”, Ben’s pieces reflect distinct places from a unique perspective.
He started by asking himself, “How do I create a landscape piece that an individual can connect with and inject that pride of place into?” and the rest is history… Well, kind of. He knew the message would always be the driving factor of art, and his message was “love your place”.
What brought you to Spokane?
Ben came to Gonzaga to go to school and study Art. He studied abroad in Florence, Italy his junior year of college. “When at Gonzaga, you didn’t graduate to become an artist, it was either graphic designer or teacher. I didn’t want to do either of those, I just wanted to paint” he said. After trying a couple different careers in San Diego, he moved back to Spokane with his wife.
What was your defining moment/inspiration?
In 2002, Ben was working part-time doing craftsmanship and firefighting then working his nights away at a concrete company. He knew the message he wanted to portray with his artwork, but didn’t know how to put it on paper. He was laying in bed one night and looking at the ceiling which had a geometrical shape and he felt that he was looking down on a cityscape. In that moment, he realized he can never fully frame a piece. This all happened in 2 minutes and it has impacted his whole life of work. Geography is constant so each piece of his work, continues beyond what it is. He uses lines to emphasize that geography can’t be contained. He realized that with traditional landscapes, all you can see is what’s in front of you and he really wanted to see around the corner.
“If I paint these things from and aerial perspective, people can recreate the connection and populate it in their memories”. It’s a matter of the moment. When people connect, they aren’t looking at it through composition but instead through their memories. It took him three years to develop his artistic style before he started selling his pieces.
Thanks to his wife, he hung one of his pieces at the Downriver Grill so his family could see it when they visited. The week after, a couple called who was sitting at dinner looking at the piece and they wanted to know more. They thought it was familiar but couldn’t understand why. Then it dawned on them that it was Spokane and they HAD to have it. The most important thing to Ben was the way they were describing the piece to him. They were explaining the artwork to the artist and that’s when he knew that he had created an image that could carry the theme “love your place”.
The next week, Fire Department called and offered him the job. That was the defining moment. He knew that if he accepted the job, art would always be his hobby. He had to follow his heart so turned down the job and went full-force into his artwork.
Since then, he has shown his work across the country and he’s confident he could go anywhere on earth and find the same connection to place and create.
What sets you apart?
His driving force has always been the message of “love your place”.
What is Inspiration 365?
“During each day in 2019, I will be creating a new piece of original art each day based on any beautiful inspiration I witness that day! There’s inspiration and beauty all around us and this is my way of capturing a little piece of it! The original piece, as well as five limited editions and five paper prints, will be available for each day! Reserve the painting I’ll create on any given date for a birthday or anniversary gift!”
What’s next for you?
Ben has had this dream for the last 15 years of putting together a collection that tells a global story. He wants to visit 12 cities across the globe and share a concise perspective of who he is and what the art collection means. Looks like we have to stay tuned for an exciting project coming soon!
He also expressed interest in a Film Project centered around telling the story of happiness.
Once you get rid of stereotypes and status quos, it doesn’t matter who you are, you all connect to your place. We are all here for such a short time and we put so much pressure and stress on ourselves to live a life that we think brings us happiness and we have to realize that there are so many people out there that have nothing compared to us, yet their happiness is on a whole other level.
I want to tell that story and share the journey.
Where do you like to eat around Spokane?
10 years ago he said this question would’ve been easy, but now since there are so many options it’s hard to pick! He did share that one of the reasons he loves the Downriver Grill & Flying Goat is because his studio used to be the Flying Goat (how cool). It’s fun for him to reminisce and see where he used to cut wood and paint. His personal connection to this restaurant puts it on the top of his list.
But, he also loves Italia Trattoria, Clover and the open-faced sandwich with an egg from Ladder. All great picks that you can’t go wrong with.
You’re on death row, what would you choose for your last meal?
Ben said he used to go to Geno’s on Hamilton a lot. “They have been around forever and consistently had great Italian food. They’ve changed the restaurant since then and have great menu, beer, and ambiance. I love the fish tacos and corn pasta salad. But my favorite dish in Spokane has to be the Thai Chicken Curry finished with a pitcher of Body Zafa IPA (Georgetown Brewery) so I’d forget the whole thing.”
If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
- Art supplies
- Magnifying Glass
- Fishing Pole
What is your go-to breakfast?
Hard Boiled Eggs. They’re quick, easy and allow him more time to spend getting his kids ready for the day.