Photographer Michael Mardikes was a good friend of Benton’s and had unfettered access to the artist and his studio as the mural “Trading at Westport Landing” was being painted as a commissioned work for the River Club, a well-known social and business gathering place for Kansas City’s elite society.
Mardikes worked the night shift at a Kansas City auto plant, so he had plenty of time during the day to make many beautiful photos of the master painter at work. But afterward, the hundreds of negatives of the extensive and historically significant photo shoot were forgotten… Until now.
Kansas City commercial photographer Nick Vedros, Mardikes’ nephew, recently received boxes of negatives from his uncle, not knowing what was inside. Closer examination uncovered images that were wonderfully composed and beautifully lit showing Benton at work, as well as visiting with members of the River Club and other personalities.
Vedros soon recognized the importance of these images and joined with fellow photography colleague Dan White to curate and print 30 selections from the archival gold mine as they rush to mount an exhibition that will shed a new light on how Benton worked supported by clear recollections provided by Mardikes.