March 2, 2019 § Leave a comment
When most people think of Andy Warhol they think of his Campbell Soup cans or his Marilyn Monroe portrait, but when I think of Andy Warhol I think of his shoe illustrations and that he was the chief illustrator in the 1950s for I. Miller shoes when my grandfather was the General Manager. I like to think they may have worked together, but lately, I look at this shoe ad of one of my grandfather’s designs and I have to wonder did he illustrate it? The photos below were taken at The Whitney Museum of Art. The Warhol exhibit ends at the end of March. I was struck by how prolific he was as an artist and how at the time he was creating his pop art many didn’t think it was art and I assume there are some now that still don’t, but regardless of what you think about his art, he captured the 20th century creating a better time capsule for future generations than one could ever have imagined through his portraits, illustrations, and films.
August 12, 2018 § 1 Comment
My sister, former dancer turned television writer Liz Benjamin shared with me a video circulating on social media on how Freed pointe shoes are made. She reminded me that our grandfather, Ben Benjamin always wanted to inspect her point shoes, especially when she had switched from Capezio to Freed. She said he was fascinated by the workmanship. Watch the short video above and you’ll see why!
Pain, satin and paper towels: What it takes for ballerinas to dance on their toes Washington Post May 26, 2017
April 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment
A couple years before I got out, before we moved into New York City. We talked it over, Ben Schwartz & I, about starting a factory out of town instead of NY. See? It was getting impossible to lead the business there because of the unions and their demands. Prices kept on going up higher, and new machinery was coming into place. So people out of town who made cheap shoes could make better shoes than what they were making with the new equipment. So we went. We went to Lynn, and Boston and St. Louis, Cincinnati. We went all around. When I came back we sat down and talked it over. I says Ben, after seeing all the towns, I think Lynn is the best place of the lot. A lot of the shoe factories have went out of business there. Not good shoemakers like we’ve got in New York, but they could be trained–taught to make better shoes. After I got out, Ben Schwartz did finally go to Lynn. – Ben Benjamin
All photos courtesy of The Library of Congress
February 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
Ben Benjamin: “Cause while he met me he didn’t know anything about me, so uh he went and spoke to his old boss about me, and a few other people. His old boss says to him, he says if you two can get along, he says you can be the biggest men in this town in the shoe business. He says you (Ben Schwartz) in the selling end of it and Ben running the factory. He’s a good factory man, designer – but you’ve got to learn to live with one another, and we got a long fine – When I first told him I wanted to get out, he says no, he wouldn’t let me. Now in all those years, we never had a fight. We never had an argument.”
December 24, 2017 § 1 Comment
July 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
May 17, 2017 § Leave a comment
A while back I found a postcard of a shoe store called Bob Baker in a briefcase that had belonged to my father. My mother had been using it to store what little shoe memorabilia was left of his. I posted it here and forgot about it until this spring when we were on vacation in Florida and stopped in Naples for the night. We found the perfect old style Florida motel and before we headed back out the next day we took a walk around the city.
Naples is beautiful, manicured, and pristine. Their 5th Avenue is lined with restaurants, shops, Lamborghinis, and Teslas. I loved it and definitely want to go back. When we were walking I noticed the sign for Bob Baker Shoes. I explained to the sales associate my father had worked with the owner a long time ago and asked if I could take a few photos. She was gracious and mentioned that his son Bob Baker Jr. was at his desk in the back of the store and to go and say hello. I introduced myself and told him my father was Arthur Benjamin. He remembered him and told me he had worked with Arthur more than his father had. The store really took me back to my dad’s shoe days and surprisingly I wasn’t emotional until he mentioned that a young woman had stopped by also not too long ago who had worked with his dad and had become very emotional and that’s when I felt the tears start to well up. I kept it together and thanked him and at his recommendation for a family style restaurant we had a lovely lunch where my son entertained himself by arranging the ketchup and mustard packets.