March 16, 2013 in Washington Voices

Brotherly love for city

Benson’s mural at Central Food reflects their affection for Spokane
Jennifer Larue
 
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Todd Benson and his brother created a mural at Central Food in Kendall Yards called “A Love Letter to Spokane.”
(Full-size photo)

Art quote of the week

“In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.”

Robert McKee, writer

On the Web

You can find Cain and Todd Benson on Facebook or on Flickr. Their website is cainandtoddbenson.com.

Brothers Cain and Todd Benson recently created a love letter to Spokane – a 77-foot-long mural in Greenstone Homes’ Central Food building in Kendall Yards.

The mural has adults and children blowing bubbles that float throughout the piece, passing others, including a bulldog, as well as the river, the Monroe Street Bridge, and the city’s skyline.

“This was a chance to do something permanent in the city that we love and try to leave it more beautiful than it was,” Cain Benson said. Todd Benson agreed, “The mural gave us the opportunity to communicate how we feel about our home.”

The brothers are a team who bring their ideas to fruition after bouncing them off each other. They make social and political comments in public places including blank walls and the World Wide Web. Though different, Todd Benson’s head goes a million miles an hour while his brother is more laid-back, the duo find common ground in their ideas, which include thoughts on current events and the world they live in.

“There’s a lot of symbols of excess and the obsession that our society has with fame in our art,” Todd said. “While celebrities are lifted up, scientists, artists, and teachers are ignored.”

Mixing handcrafted and digitally formed additions to stock photos found online, the duo have created pieces that have been viewed more than 2 million times and used with articles about politics or entertainment in national and international publications, including Forbes and Huffington Post. A little bit “pop” and a little bit “in your face,” their pieces flip the bird like in “Senkaku Islands”, or show Lindsay Lohan in the courtroom with her thoughts about the judge painted on a fingernail in a piece called “Irrelevant.” The latter was posted on LA Weekly’s list for the top 10 best “Lindsay Lohan’s Artworks” twice.

Over the past 10 years, since moving to Spokane, the Canadian-born brothers have wheatpasted or painted many pieces throughout the city and the surrounding areas including a series of pieces that promoted voting.

For the past year, Cain Benson has been in Valentine, Neb., where he moved to work as an art director on an independent film. He has created murals in the area with the help of his brother’s designs while Todd has secured some work in Spokane including more pieces for Greenstone Homes. Cain Benson will be returning to Spokane in the near future.

On their website, they explain their motivation as “purely autobiographical. It is about ourselves and the world we live in. It is an attempt at a record. We are inspired by people that interest us and that we care about and think about.”

To that, Todd Benson added, “Same thing the caveman did.”

Whether they’re painting, building or computer generating an idea, remotely or together, they will always record their times, their places, and their people.

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