Benita Epstein – Extraordinary Work in Ordinary Places
On Tuesday Bruce and I visited GreenGo's Natural & Organic Food on Dana Drive for the first time.
Although we enjoyed the food -- (Bruce loved his GreenGo's Turkey Sandwich, and I liked my Greek Pizza, loaded with artichoke hearts and feta) -- lunch was our secondary reason for being there.
Benita Epstein's exhibit was the main draw - so to speak.
I remember the first time Benita Epstein left a comment on A News Cafe, with her real name. I tried to remain calm. I hope I didn't write any smitten replies.
"Benita Epstein! OMG!!! Is that REALLY YOU?!!"
OK, so maybe I did gush a bit. Whatever.
For a little background, in the cartoon world, Benita Epstein is a rock star. Four times she's been nominated as the Best Magazine Gag Cartoonist by the National Cartoonists Society; twice for the Best Greeting Card Cartoonist.
In addition to her work that appears in three cartoon collections and on greeting cards, you've probably seen Benita's cartoons in hundreds of publications. Which ones? Oh, like The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, Wall St. Journal, USA Weekend and Reader's Digest.
I first became acquainted with Benita through her friend and admirer, Phil Fountain, known on this site as A News Cafe's beloved, talented cartoonist and funny guy (good writer, too).
Phil discovered Benita lived in Redding after he visited a cartoonists chat room and she said something to the effect of, "You live in Redding? So do I!"
He could not believe it. The Benita Epstein. In Redding.
(Note: The reflection? Plastic to protect the artwork. My photos that don't do the cartoons justice.)
Inside GreenGo's the woman who rang up my order said the Epsteins were regular customers, and everyone at GreenGo's was honored - and even a little surprised - to have Benita's cartoons on the restaurant's walls.
We at A News Cafe aren't surprised. Last year we met Benita - an extraordinary woman who generously shares her gifts with ordinary people in sometimes the most understated, ordinary places.
That's what she did in November at A News Cafe's first birthday party where she and Phil conducted their first-ever Cartoon-Off. As hundreds of guests ate, drank and were merry, Benita and Phil stood for hour upon hour as they drew custom cartoons for donations to benefit the Shasta Women's Refuge and People of Progress.
Perhaps you saw the Epsteins Sunday at the Redding Home & Garden Show, where Benita and Ted stopped by A News Cafe's booth and mentioned a by-the-way about a current exhibit of Benita's cartoons.
The word "exhibit" led me to wonder if Turtle Bay Museum was lucky enough to secure an Epstein show. Wishful thinking, I thought - more likely her exhibit was someplace like San Francisco or Portland.
As it turned out, the exhibit was not at Turtle Bay, nor in San Francisco or Portland.
Instead, Benita displayed her cartoons at GreenGo's, the kind of laid-back, casual place that serves food in red plastic baskets lined with white paper.
Wonder of wonders, for a little while longer GreenGo's will also be described as the kind of place where the works of renowned cartoonist -- and Redding resident -- Benita Epstein, will adorn its walls.
Now showing: Benita Epstein cartoons
Where: GreenGo's - Natural & Organic Food to Go, 1107 Dana Drive, Redding
When: Through April 27 - Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What else: Benita Epstein's matted prints at GreenGo's are available for sale for $35.
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