Ben Weiss1923 -2010
Ben Weiss in April of 2010, doing sketches at Gallery Z during his exhibit.
Ben Weiss Biography, 2005
Depending who you are, the saga of Ben Weiss is common or uncommon knowledge. How he grew up in the orphanage that is now Miriam Hospital, went on to study and later teach at the Rhode Island School of Design, the way he laid claim on real estate and suffered the slings and arrows of outrage at his success, and then won the respect and good will of his neighbors in Fox Point, are all key parts of his colorful life, with residences in Providence, Rhode Island and Paris, France.
Born in 1924 in Poland, Weiss served in the United States Armed Forces. While there he did some superb sketches of his fellow G.I.s and the sailors aboard the troop ships. In the postwar world, he painted liberated Paris, brought back a French bride and raised a bi-lingual son, Pascal.
His only current homestead is the house nestled between Coffee Exchange and Zog. It houses a Japanese restaurant, Sakura, and a meandering gallery of Weiss works that travel along the circular stairway, the corridors and the chambers of Ben's upstairs lair, the site of a thousand inventive interior designs, gadgets and work tables. The building stands just a wee bit back from the street itself. Ben is a member of the Providence Art Club.
"I like the work of Mondrian, with its neat and cheerful geometric shapes," says Weiss, smiling under his magical crop of white hair, like a true wizard of an actual Oz. "When New Orleans was flooded, I thought I would rescue its French look and harbor its traditions right here at home."