Date: Tue, 06 Jun 1995 07:26:24 -0400
From: KONG WAI LEE <kw_lee@vega.concordia.ca>
To: Multiple recipients of list MSM-L <MSM-L@vm.temple.edu>
Subject: Entertainment Weekly Article B&J

     From Entertainment Weekly, Friday, April 23, 1993. Issue
No. 167.

     When Mary Stuart Masterson is first seen in Benny & Joon,
she is in full splatter, painting in a glass-enclosed, light-
filled studio overlooking the Spokane River.  For her character,
the mentally ill Joon, painting is integral-an essential means of
expressing herself.  For the actress, the paintings also had
special meaning : She helped create them.
     Initially, Spokane-based artist Harold Balazs was brought in
to provide the canvases.  But, as production designer Neil Spisak
explains, "Balazs' style was more accomplished and more
sophisticated" than what was needed.  So Spisak, along with
assistant art director Troy Sizemore, agreed on an unusual
approach : They scoured thrift stores for old paintings and
recycled them by having Masterson and scenic artists paint over
them to create new works.
     "It was a long process," says Spisak, who originally
envisioned the paintings in the styles of abstract artists such
as Helen Frankenthaler (airy and colorful) and Jackson Pollock
(high energy).  But when Masterson was given paint and brushed
and encouraged to play around with them, things changed.  She and
director Jeremiah Chechik decided Joon's art should be more
representational, "more figurative," says Spisak, "because there
is such a passive quality to her character-she's in her own world
where the paintings and the studio are safe," and she can express
herself freely.  Both Masterson's originals and recycled canvases
were used in the film.
     Masterson makes no claims to being a great painter-she cites
Sesame Street as her main inspiration-but adds,"I never had the
nerve to paint before.  It definitely became a great outlet."
Fans can forget about owning any of the featured art-most of the
paintings were destroyed in a fire sequence that didn't make it
into the final cut of the film.  Besides, says Masterson, "I
don't think anyone would want a Mary Stuart Masterson original
hanging anywhere other than in their bathroom."