Dancers #1

An original watercolor
by John Benjamin

Dated 9-96 - 11¾ inches x 17¾ inches

Watercolor on paper; Framed.

Custom framed. The watercolor floats over an acid-free board, under conservation glass. Framed size is 18 inches x 24 inches.

This is one of two watercolors purchased directly from the artist in March 1997. While visiting Grenada for ten days, my wife Rebecca and I spent time every day seeking venues that displayed local art. Our itinerary had us circling the island, spending several days each in St. George's, Grenville, Sauteurs, and Victoria, then back to St. George's. In Grenville, we couldn't find any galleries, so we asked the proprietor of a variety shop where we might see art in the area. He told us that he knew an artist—John Benjamin—who worked out of his home, and he phoned him to see if we could visit. (We later learned that the shop owner was John Benjamin's brother, Reynold.) John drove into town to pick us up—we didn't have a car—and took us to his home to show us his work.

We immediately liked both John and his paintings. A talented, full-time artist, he was then working mostly in watercolor, but occasionally produced an oil painting. He also illustrated flyers, brochures, books, menus, etc. for local merchants and organizations. He said creating watercolors was fun for him, while getting an oil painting done to his satisfaction could be tortuous. John talked of the importance of circles in his art: The round world rotates while circling the sun. He saw circles powering motion, and that's what he strived to illustrate in this watercolor.

Of John's available paintings, I especially liked this one, Dancers #1. The power behind the man's asymmetrical eyes and the woman's energy grabbed me. Rebecca was drawn to Dancers #2, which was about half done when we first saw it on John's easel.

That evening, we joined John for dinner at a local restaurant. He told us about his experiences during the hurricane of 1954, and he spoke of the bombing of the planes on the ground at the Grenville airport during the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983. He offered to finish Dancers #2 for Rebecca over the next few days, and to deliver both paintings to us in St. George's when we returned there. We agreed to that arrangement.

The following day—to spare us the adventure of a Grenadian minibus ride—John drove us up to Morne Fendue Plantation House, the guest house we were to stay at near Sauteurs. After we deposited our luggage there, he took us to nearby Bathway Beach. Several days later, as promised, he brought our two new watercolors to us in St. George's. In the meantime, we also bought a copy of the locally published Grenada Spice Isle Homemakers Cookbook, for which John had done the cover illustration. He inscribed that book for us.