By Ky Ober

Uncle Benton

November 12, 2021

MY GREAT-UNCLE BENTON SPENT EVERY summer with us at our home in New Hampshire. When my grandfather was alive, the two brothers spent hours walking and talking together, then each retiring to his work — my grandfather to his poetry, Uncle Benton to his philosophizing, his numerous letters, and his meticulous daily diary.

Every morning at breakfast, Uncle Benton would tell of his adventures, and we all, loving them, would egg him on: “Sixty years ago today, I embarked on my first grand excursion into the wilderness…,” he would say. The experience and the telling were grand and expansive, but Uncle Benton’s voice was very much of the present, direct, emphatic, feet on the ground, bushwhacking through before you could reach the awe-inspiring view from the top.

Uncle Benton was staunchly loyal to family and close friends, and his friends to him. Lewis Mumford, Clarence Stein, and many others stayed in touch regularly, and Benton would catch us up on their lives, so we had as examples for our own lives, the richness of enduring friendship. And to all those who were lucky enough to be in Uncle Benton’s circle of warm and embraced “family,” he signed off with his distinctive “Arms Out, Benton.”

Summer Still Light
Chine-colle’, monoprint lithograph on Japanese paper “I hope the print captures that moment at the end of a summer day when the light is still there, but warm, glowing. All is still, warmth, peace.” -Ky Ober


Ky (Marion MacKaye) Ober grew up in New York City in the winters and at her grandfather’s (Percy MacKaye’s) Cornish Colony home in New Hampshire in the summers. She was deeply influenced by the rich cultural life of the city and the direct encounter with nature and creative life she experienced there with her grandfather and great-uncle Benton. She attended the Rudolf Steiner School where both her parents taught, and she later received an undergraduate degree in biology and graduate degree in Landscape Architecture, only to study art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and teach there as an associate faculty member for many years. Through her position on the Boston Printmakers Board, she has been able to participate in and support student and professional printmakers through national exhibitions and international printmaking exchanges and has enjoyed extensive travel and collaborative work with other artists. She lives with her husband in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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