Artist Mark Bennett has always had a fascination with fictional homes.
Often, when he watches a movie, he counts the number of steps a character takes inside a certain room, then approximates the room’s square footage. Afterwards, he puts it to paper, meticulously drawing fantasy architectural plans of the structure.
After seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” he drafted a seemingly real plan of the Bates Motel’s twelve cabins.
“It includes the swamp behind, and up in the left corner on the hillside is the original Norman Bates’ and his mother’s mansion, which is a Victorian, gothic two-story with a basement,” Bennett says.
“Home of Mr. Norman Bates” will be one of the many drawings on display at the Mark Moore Gallery as part of “Family Tree,” Bennett’s solo exhibition.
Over the decades, he’s sketched dozens of plans. His favorites are the sets of classic sitcoms, like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch and Perry Mason.
“My very first one was Leave it to Beaver, and then it slowly snowballed,” Bennett says.
Despite his passion, finding a gallery to showcase his designs proved difficult. “Nobody wanted me,” he says.
In 1992, he rented a tent and set up shop at Beverly Hills’ “Art in the Park,” displaying his drawings on sheets of cardboard,so passersby could flip through them like record albums. But that afternoon, a judge at the event shooed Bennett away.
She said, “‘That’s not art. Get them out of here … This is not a craft show,” he remembers. “So I didn’t put them out anymore. I put them under my bed and forgot about them.”
Years later, he unearthed his old drawings and brought them to a Hollywood bar. A representative from the Mark Moore Gallery “came in to have a drink, turned around, and saw Mary Tyler Moore,” Bennett says. “Of course, it didn’t say ‘Mary Tyler Moore.’ It said ‘Mary Richards Apartment, Minneapolis, Minnesota.'”
Now, Bennett’s art has new life on the walls of the Mark Moore Gallery, paying the ultimate tribute to the timeless films, sitcoms and characters he admires.
“To me, it’s just about memories and loving them,” Bennett says. “It’s like my valentine to them.”
“Family Tree” opens Saturday, Sept. 10 at Culver City’s Mark Moore Gallery at 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City. The exhibition runs through Oct. 29.