Mike Benton makes art for everyone

Published 7:11 pm Friday, January 6, 2023

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The Mike Benton Art Exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts has been held over by popular demand.

“And, that’s understandable,” said Brenda Campbell, JCA director.

Benton is a Pike County resident and primarily self-taught artist. He paints what he knows and what interests him and he has a lot of interests.

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Mike’s artwork resonates with “just about everybody,” perhaps everybody, Campbell said.

“Whatever your interests are, there’s a good chance that Mike Benton has painted something seemingly just for you,” Campbell said. “A gentleman came in the Johnson Center the other and said excitedly surprised, ‘That’s Festus!’ He said he is a fan of television’s popular, ‘Gunsmoke’ and that he has watched just about every episode of the longest-running shoot ‘em up that was made. Mike also has paintings of Miss Kitty, Doc and Marshal Matt Dillon. Anybody that enjoys ‘Gunsmoke’ will find Mike’s exhibit interesting.”

Campbell said Benton’s work also includes beautiful, colorful still life compositions, Iron Bowl games, even realistic paintings of ships that were commissioned as covers for novels.

Benton, said, as a child, he was introduced to art while watching television’s “how to” shows like John Nagy. Any paper with a clean surface soon became a place for drawing. In school, Benton, kept drawing murals and painting tigers for the football team. He has attended classes by other artists but mostly had to teach himself. He enjoys working with other artists and with art students.

After years of devoting his talent to music and playing with various bands, Benton said his daughter, Amanda Smothers, encouraged him to get into art again.

“I started drawing with graphite, charcoal and pastels and started watching videos of famous artists and instructional programs to learn everything I could about painting with acrylic and oil paints,” Benton said.

He also became interested in watercolor and clay sculpture and his interest generated more and more enthusiasm for the new mediums.

Benton’s work has been published on the covers of seven novels and has been displayed in studios, at art galleries and in magazines.

He is a member of the Pike County Art Guild and the Bullock County Art Guild and has served as its president. He is also teaches classes in Pike and Bullock counties. He has been an exhibitor at TroyFest and has won the Graphic Artist award.

Mike Benton is also a singer and musician and often performs in the local area with his daughter, Amanda Smothers; granddaughters, Abby Porter and Lily, and Hugh Atkins. Mike has taught art classes in and around the Bullock and Pike area. He teaches advanced art at Pike Liberal Arts School.

“God gave me talents and guidance,” he said. “I love art and music. I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.”

Mike Benton’s exhibit is featured in the JCA’s upper gallery. Antonio Jamal Holmes artwork is featured in the lower gallery.

The JCA is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.