Ben Cohen

The artist is a psychotherapist who outgrew his chosen profession and became a full time painter in 2004    Ben started producing images on his computer  based on his approach to psychotherapy and his life experiences
as wilderness explorer, street musician, craftsman, computer expert, car mechanic, blue water sailor, and astronomer in late 2000.  One thing lead to another and to make a long story short the artist was discovered by
Ernest Martin in early 2001.  Ben had his first show shortly thereafter, participating in a modern art group show during May 2001 exhibiting large paper artist proofs.  Encouraged by the strong positive response, the artist
then spent  the next eighteen months producing canvases of his work, painting the edges of each piece to finish it so that it could be exhibited frame less. As a consequence of his production process the artist learned to
paint. Simultaneously during this time period the artist was learning about art from Martin, who after serving as a SEAL in WWII  established himself an artist in post war Paris and New York, and whose personal relationships
included Picasso, Hemingway, and Pollack, among others.   The artist
spent long hours in conversation late into the night with Martin in his studio during 01 and 02 about his life experiences and views on art.  

The artist set out on his own in 2003 to begin exhibiting his work.   He participated in three juried fine art competitions during the year using each show to refine his presentation.  A major landscaping project at his home
consumed much of the artist’s time during 2003.   The artist expanded into painting the summer of 03, finishing the self-evolved mixed media piece “Conception” in September and started work on
“Spiritual Approach” in

After the New Year in 2004, Ben met Howard Lamar.  After several months of contact and conversation, an offering of mentoring by Lamar was accepted by the artist in March.  Spiritual Approach was finished about this
time.  The artist showed in Beverly Hills during May at the city’s “Affaire in the Garden Art Show and in the Thousand Oaks Art Walk in June. The remainder of 2004 saw the artist withdraw from active practice as a
psychotherapist (which he had been working at full time all along) and devoting his full attention to his art with the opening of Wizardhat Studios in Ojai during June.     From August of 2004 to March 2005 Ben gave painting
demonstrations behind The Local Hero every weekend.  He was the featured artist at Ojai International Clothing, located in Ventura’s downtown cultural district, during the 2004 summer and fall art walks.    Released in early
November, 2004,
Morning Winds was Ben’s debut CD featuring his live flute performances in Ojai. Who's Next finished in early December was his fourth painting and was one of his pieces representing the artist during a
group show at Gallerie Lamar during the 2004 holiday season.  

During the entire year of 2005, Ben could be found playing the flute in the passageway next to Movino’s on most mornings in the heart of downtown.   For 12 months, starting in September 2004, Ben regularly played during
the afternoon at the Brown Art Gallery.   He also played on Tuesday evenings at the Starbucks in Thousand Oaks Oakbrook Center for 10 months ending those performances at the end of September 2005.    The beginning
of 2005 saw Ben released his second CD
“3 Months Later” in early February 2005.  Shortly thereafter, the artist met musician Christopher Currell, became friends, and began collaborating with him on a number of projects.   
One of which was a studio recording of flute improvisations using 3D Virtual Audio technology developed by
Chris and Pro Tools which was released as
Broken Heartwood in October 2005.   Recording sessions for this CD were made in March, May, and July.    Wizardhat Studios presented Chris in a solo concert “Aural Vibrational
Manifestations” during June 2005 in Ojai at Meditation Mount.    These 2005 musical projects delayed the artist in completing a Twist of Fate, his fifth painting, which was finish in late April instead of early March.  On July 12
the artist recorded his 4th CD,
Wizardhat Studios - Yosemite Magic in the tunnel on Highway 140 within Yosemite National Park and released it in early August.   The artist finished work on his sixth painting, Broken
at the end of July, his seventh and  eighth paintings, “The Living Rock” and “Sol’s Sea”  in October, and his
ninth painting,
“Departure Point” in early November, and his tenth, "Furious Peak "  was finished later in that month.   To mark the closing of the Brown Art Gallery in mid September, the artist released his 5th CD ”Bag's
a collection of recordings he made during his performances there that traced his musical development during the previous 12 months.  In October, the artist selected tracks from his first 5 CDs and released the
collection as “The Past Beginning”.    

After spending 2 months relocating his studio from Ojai to the Conejo Valley the artist resumed painting in 2006 and started a series titled  "The artist is not responsible for anything you see".   The first three paintings of this
series were finished in late February and early March 2006.    Painting number 4 in the series, which has the title
"As You Like It", was finished in early May.   Painting number 5 was finished in June.    "Ghost Horse Riders"
the artist's only painting with deliberate content the first half of 2006,  was completed in late February prior to starting the series.

The artist produced his
first art video in April 2006, a fusion of his painting and music into a whole greater than the sum of its parts, featuring the painting, Ghost Horse Riders, and the track, "The Wind's Song of Destiny's
Burden," from his Yosemite Magic CD.    The artist produced "River Song" his second art video in May, which Chris Currell provided the music for.   In mid July the artist returned to Yosemite and recorded in the tunnel
again.    The artist finished
 "They said it was done," painting number 6 in the above mentioned series, in late July.   In collaboration with Sotto Voce Productions the artist produced his third art video "Anywhere" featuring the
music of Erin McCune in early August.    In late August the artist completed
"Eye Full," his first painting with content since February.   The artist participated in the Thousand Oaks Open Studio Tour in October.   By then he
had completed paintings number 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the “anything you can see” series.   He started work on
number 11, a 30” x 48” canvas, in late October.   It became the first piece of 2007 when it was finished in early

The  artist again participated in the Thousand Oaks Open Studio Tour in early May 2007 which was expanded to enable the involved artists to hang two pieces each in the
Fred Kavli Theatre Art Gallery for a 3 ½ month
group show that ended July 15th.    The artist choose to exhibit
“And Our Flag was Still There” and Number 4 from his series, “As You Like It” as his two pieces.   The artist finished paintings Numbered 12  and 13 during
May.   He exhibited his recent works at the
Thousand Oaks Art Walk on June 2nd and 3rd before beginning his next painting, Number 14 which was finished by late June.

The artist took a break from painting during July to finish starting up a mental health program for at risk youth and their families that he had been working on building up for the past 12 months.    He is pleased to pass on to
others a functional program that will serve members of his community in the future.     The artist resume painting in August  but was interrupted at the beginning of September when he was hired to produce several pieces of
art work for IS West's new facility and company headquarters in Agoura Hills.     The result was four new "Art Images,"  
The Art of Fire, Wake Up Call, Good Morning LA, and Hurricane Point that are on now on permanent
exhibit there along with the number two canvas of 911 - And Our Flag Was Still There.     The artist  resumed working on his
next painting thereafter and produced another 3 paintings in the series before he was introduced
to Second Life by the above mentioned Mr. Currell as a way of staying in touch in early 2008.    Second Life opened the door to virtual reality building to the artist that has been his focus the past 3 years and the result has
Wizardhat Studios in Secondlife, a living painting that enables its audience to become completely immersed in it, a part of it.    While Wizardhat Studios in SL was being created and evolving, the artist did participate in
the Thousand Oaks Open Studio Tour in 2008 and 2009, exhibiting pieces as part of the group show and performing on the flute at the Kavli Theater Art Gallery at the show opening.    The artist was finding that Second Life
was an excellent channel for showing his real life work to a world wide audience while simultaneously being able to presenting his new medium of a living painting.    At this time, Wizardhat Studios in Second Life is visited by
over 3000 unique visitors from over 67 countries on a monthly basis, many of who return over and over again to spend hours listening to the music while their optic nerves are soothed by their vision of the land.    It is a
common comment by visitors that they feel a peacefulness descend upon them where they enter, something that sticks with them and is healing.     There is enough feedback from visitors to support the artist/therapist's
perception that virtual reality can be a healing experience or bring comfort to others when they most need it.    One individual stands out from the past, a dying cancer patient who was brought to the island by someone.   
She ran through the meadows and found herself forgetting her condition.    It gave her some joy in her last days I was told, to come and run through the flowers and grass, dance on the beach, and let the sunset's colors
shine on her (my framing of what was shared. :-)  ).   The artist listens for the land these days and he hears many things that are fulfilling to hear.    He lets the land speak for him in Second Life as he lets his art speak for
him in the real world.   Of course that leaves out someone to speak for the land, artists are not neutral about their work and self presentation gets in the way of the work being seen on its own merits (that is why an agent is
good),  So when people who had found meaningfulness at the island asked if there was anything they could do to feel that they were contributing to it, the artist created the role of Speaker for the Land.   Speakers speak to
visitors as they see fit about their experience past and present with the land.    The artist is blessed to have these good people make Wizardhat Studios a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.     Recently the artist
started a
facebook page for Wizardhat Studios in Second Life.    Interested readers can view photos of the land there by the artist and guests, needless to say, a picture is worth a thousand words.    And if any readers are
interested in visiting Wizardhat Studios in Second Life,
its easy to sign up for a free account, download the viewer, and log in.    Learning how to use Second Life takes time, but to just check out the island, one needs to just
get there.   Type Wizardhat Studios into the search box and teleport to the island once logged in and you are there to see it first hand.    A hi performance graphic card is required for the image quality one sees in the artist's
photos on facebook.    Some guest photos there illustrate low quality rendering as a result of standard OEM graphic chips.    With the living painting finished, the artist currently considering the form of his next project.

About the Artist
Photo credit: Jason Hunter