Mark Bennetts Sitcom Art
Leave it to Beaver to Frazier: the Art of Mark Bennett"
is in its last few days at the University Art Museum
in Santa Barbara. It offers up some entertaining details about
the world of sitcom characters as well as an opportunity to
contemplate this weird thing we call TV.
Bennett has created a suite of blueprints depicting the homes,
apartments- or other dwelling spaces- seen in our most popular
situation comedies. They are full size, and replete with details
that youd find on blueprints in "the real world",
including, for instance, addresses: Lucy and Ricky Ricardo
lived in Manhattan at 623 East 68th Street in Apartment 4A
(zip code 10021). Bennett notes dutifully how youd get
to the Mertzs apartment, including a directional arrow
down the hallway. His and hers closets as well as his and
hers beds are in the single bedroom, along with the crib.
complete "Gilligans Island" is here- I never
realized they had built a stage, but Mark Bennett did- and
so you wonder once again at how incredibly resourceful these
folks really were. Youll find the chair that Dick Van
Dyke trips over in the open of his shows first season.
And this is one of the things thats fascinating about
this exhibit; it doesnt take long to buy into the reality
that hes created. Once the viewer notices the obsessive,
but amusing, accuracy of these drawings the exhibition becomes
a sort of Easter egg hunt for the salient detail and the in-joke.
The Brady Bunchs garage, Bennett notes, has space for
two fine AMERICAN cars.
Mark Bennett reminds us of many things we already knew about
the power of TV, but he does it in a unique and light-hearted
way. He lets us wonder happily at our affection for the Petries
and the Mertzs and the Cranes without wagging an admonishing
finger at us. These TV worlds are crafted for our enjoyment,
and we enjoy them; well-appointed alternate universes for
our imaginations to travel to.
IMAGES COURTESY THE UNIVERSITY OF ART MUSEUM WEB SITE,