Growing community through art: The work and inspiration of local Midland artist Jazzmyn Benitez

“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” -artist Edward Hopper.

Art has been defined as the expression of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. This definition of the word speaks to its strength and importance not only for the artist, but also for the viewer. In that aspect, Jazzmyn Benitez is an extremely talented local artist that yearns to create community connections through her paintings.

“I get the opportunity to teach people to relearn how to be a kid again. We as adults are too hard on ourselves.”

Originally from Orange County, California, Jazzmyn moved to Midland in her early twenties. She came with a background and education in graphic design, but found quickly that her creativity was not being met in the graphic design world.

“I’ve been doing art since I was little. My family is very well rounded in the art field,” says Benitez. “My grandpa used to be a photographer, my dad and brothers all have artistic abilities. Art is just in my blood.”

The new mural project generated through the Midland Area Community Youth Action Council (MACYAC).

By day, Jazzmyn works as a store manager for Live Oak Coffeehouse and she still does some freelance graphic design work for friends from time to time. But she gets to channel her creativity with her work for Parker Lane Design Studio as their head paint instructor. There, she leads entertainment type art classes.

“I get the opportunity to teach people to relearn how to be a kid again. We as adults are too hard on ourselves,” says Benitez. “So, I get to bring the artist out of adults, and I think that's really great.”

Benitez gets to channel her creativity with her work for Parker Lane Design Studio as their head paint instructor.

Her most recent piece, an inspirational mural project generated through the Midland Area Community Youth Action Council (MACYAC), is on permanent display. Located at the corner of Patrick and Washington streets on the exterior of the Circle Auto Parts building. With a theme surrounding youth philanthropy and an artist call out, Jazzmyn was selected for the project along with Parker Lane’s Gessica Garber and the two worked closely together on the piece.

“I get the opportunity to teach people to relearn how to be a kid again. We as adults are too hard on ourselves.”

“I had to do some research on what MACYAC does, what philanthropy is and what it looks like to teach our youth about it. I came up with the idea that essentially what they're trying to do is change the world around them: change the community and help give to the people that are doing the changing,” says Benitez.

“So, I thought about it a lot and the concept came to me. It’s a light bulb that resembles the sun, and then the earth with the botanical plants intertwined with gears which represent technology. The idea is that we can change the world and our neighbors and our community around us through what God is already given to us on our planet.”

Benitez worked closely on this project with Parker Lane’s Gessica Garber.

“Through Parker Lane Design Studio, we have quite a few artists. Gessica and myself were the main artists that worked on the piece, but I also brought in a few other artist friends including Dacia herself (owner or Parker Lane Design Studio). It was kind of was a team effort,” she says.

“Because of its location on a main road, people would see the team working on the mural and stop to look and help. I had little kids painting on it as well as some people who have supported me throughout the years,” says Benitez. “It was awesome to create, people came to hang out. They brought us beverages and food. It was a really good time and a great experience.”

One of the murals inside Parker Lane Design Studio, which was created through a team effort.

Benitez’s work appears on other area murals as well. A wave mural adorns the open wall in Parker Lane Design Studio. It’s a collaborative effort of many artists working at the studio. Another group mural project provides a beautiful floral backdrop in the neighboring Captured Photography studio.

As far as next projects are concerned, Benitez current focus is on her own body of work. “I’ve always wanted to be in galleries and that sort of thing. So, the first step is to get a few pieces out. There are freelance jobs that I do for people around town. I’ve donated a few pieces to the annual Ties and Tales Gala supporting for the Humane Society of Midland County to try to raise money for them. New things come in every day.”

A true artist, Jazzmyn intrinsically continues to create and generate ideas. She’s currently working on a deep and complex painting that she describes as “kind of a lot.” All art is open to interpretation, and this piece captures her view of the destruction of the planet and the role collective human nature has played, whether big or small, knowingly or by accident.

Benitez's describes this piece as her self-portrait and representation of her relationship with God.

Displayed hanging on the wall in Parker Lane Design Studio you’ll also see Jazzmyn’s painting that she describes as her self-portrait and representation of her relationship with God. The stunning painting evolved over a year’s time. Jazzmyn explained feeling the need to make additions and changes to it over time, until she reached a point where it felt complete.

Her creative process is unique to each piece. But regardless of the project the process involves time and patience.

“Typically, when I go to create something, it just kind of comes to me and I can't get it out of my head until I draw it out. Then it’s a lot of working with the material and making sure it looks the way that I want. It’s a lot of walking away from it and then coming back to it, looking at it from another angle or from another perspective, often in the middle of the night, if that is when I get inspiration.”

A group project Benitez worked on inside the Captured Photography Studio.

“Generally, I’d say a lot of my paintings are like life. You can't just get frustrated and walk away from it. You have to enjoy the process of creating it and trusting the journey of the piece. As well as just letting it happen and letting it unfold while being ok with the messiness of what it starts out as,” she says.

For creative inspiration, Jazzmyn says “I really use the world around me. I think that there is beauty in everything and we just have to take a second to look around and see it. The people I look up to are the people that support me on a day-to-day basis. They are the ones that really open my eyes to the world around me. At the end of the day, most of the artwork I do is pretty inspired. I’m just kind of letting the paint fly and then whatever happens just kind of happens organically.”

Even though appearing in galleries would be a welcome accomplishment, apart from setting a specific creative goal or working toward a dream, Benitez explains that ever since she was a kid, she's really just wanted to touch people's lives through art.

Jazzmyn Benitez inside Parker Lane Design Studio.

“I was saved as a young kid through art and music. So, for me art is really about the connection versus the overall goal and dream of being in galleries or having my own gallery, or whatever that may look like in the future. It’s really just about connecting with someone,” she says.

When asked her favorite social media accounts for inspiration, Jazzmyn says that apart from her friends, she follows and supports many local artists including Paper Heart Designs and Meg Richardson Design. Wood burning is also an artistic interest for Jazzmyn, some of which she offers in her classes at Parker Lane Design Studio. She follows Foxwood Pyrography for inspiration in that realm, but also thinks that their work is super intricate and different.

One of Jazzmyn's current pieces in progress.

Jazzmyn’s business card reads “enjoy the process, trust the journey” and a conversation with her generates her truth behind this motto. Her passion is evident and her work is inspiring. Check out her website at enjoylifejazzmynbenitez.com for more information about this artistic mover and shaker’s work.

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