In Memory


Ben Van Meter


Humble Ben Van Meter

Lakeport, CA

I was born this time around on Feb. 9, 1941 in Oklahoma City. The date, time and place made me an Aquarius with Scorpion rising and moon in Cancer. After two brushes with the law involving integration and potentially miscegenistic activities I migrated to San Francisco to study film and poetry at San Francisco State College. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war. My first film the Poon Tang Trilogy, a satire on censorship, drew the attention of the FBI and won a prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1966. My 15 minutes of fame was launched. My art partner Roger Hillyard and I did light shows first for Bill Graham at the early Fillmore and then for Chet Helms at the Avalon Ballroom. I shot film and slides in the ballrooms, on the street and in the parks during the Summer of Love. I met Sandra Davis and we were married at the Buddhist Temple in San Francisco on December 16, 1967. I receieved a B.A. in Film-Poetry from San Francisco State and a M,F.A. in Filmmaking fro the San Francisco Art Institute. From 1968 - 1979 I taught Filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and continued producing ex-spirit-mental films. During this time three children were born, Lila, Ben and Sam. Our family lived in the old Bloomfield Schoolhouse in the country near Tomales. From 1979 - 2014 I worked in horticulture and social service in various group homes and transitional living projects with emotionally disturbed teens. From 2000 to 2007 I was General Manager of the Niles Community Theater in Alturas CA and was writer/producer of an outdoor drama, Lost River, the Story of the Modoc Indian War. I also worked with at risk youth during this time, both white and native american. When Governor Schwartznegger terminated the funding for the CA Arts Councils and consequently Lost River, We moved to Oregon in 2007 and I worked in a transitional living program with youth who had aged out of "the system." Moving back to California in 2010 I had jobs first with Redwood Children's Services and then the Mendocino County Youth Project. I was forced into retirement in April of 2014 by a stroke. During recovery I met a sixties collector and scholar through selling sixties memorabilia on ebay. We developed a friendship which has let to the creation of this book. Although he must remain nameless here (due to rules of his day job) he is contributing essays on my work, on the North American Ibis Alchemical Company, Interviews with three Ibis artists and the introduction. Julian Cox, Head Curator of the de Young museum is providing the foreword. Sandra I live in Obscurity CA (that's near Lakeport) and have jointly been responsible for the incarnations of seven excellent human beings, three children and four grandchildren.


Click here to see Ben's last Profile entry.