Just as he has in so many past years, TV veteran Jack Bender will attend the Emmy Awards this Sunday. He's nominated again this year in the category of Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for his work on the hit ABC show "Lost," for which he is also an executive producer. But after some 25 years working in television, Bender has finally gone public with his other occupation.
This weekend also marks the opening of his first major art exhibition, titled "Jack Bender FOUND," at Timothy Yarger Fine Art, a gallery in Beverly Hills.
The themes of "lost and found," of seeking and finding, and of faith, play a major role in "Lost," a drama about a group of plane-crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island. But these are equally apt themes for Bender personally. He is the husband of a rabbinical student, but says his own faith is not as easily defined. And he is an artist who describes his work, both behind the camera and on canvas, as having a life of its own.
"If you're good at directing, you let life happen," he says, and similarly, "you have to let the painting have its voice."
Bender tends to work quickly on his paintings, favoring bold colors and brush strokes, layering on paint as well as objects, such as Perrier bottle caps, blue jeans and vintage photographs.
In many cases, he is commenting on American society. But Bender also explains that in most of his pieces, "it's not as much of an intellectual statement as a visceral one."
He goes for raw emotion, creating pieces that conjure artists from Basquiat to Gauguin or Picasso.
One of his works, "Jazz Man" will be auctioned off at Saturday's opening reception, with proceeds benefiting Friends of Washington Prep Foundation, an organization that supports and develops arts programming at George Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles.
"It's a remarkable place.... They have taken guns out of kids' hands and given them instruments," Bender said.
Also scheduled at the opening is a performance by The View Park Prep Jazz Combo, and one more highlight.
Bender's "The Hatch Painting" is a mural that was featured on "Lost" last season, and has been the subject of much chat room conversation by show groupies attempting to decode its many symbols. Fans can see it in person at the gallery, but as far as secrets hidden within the work, Bender offers only this: "There are definitely Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs in the forest there. So people should come see it."
The 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on NBC, Sun., Aug. 27, at 8 p.m.
The opening reception for "Jack Bender: FOUND" takes place Sat., Aug. 26, at 7:30 p.m. 329 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. R.S.V.P., (310) 278-4400. www.yargerfineart.com.
-- Keren Engelberg, Contributing Writer