About | Slideshow | Statements | Catalogue | Memories
What remains after we die? For most of us, there are
possessions, many or few, that are dispersed or thrown away;
friends, false or true, who go their way and remember us or don't;
family, who know us best, but whose memories also fade over
time. But a few of us, a very few, leave evidence of our talent, our
art, expressions of our souls, that takes on its own life, and shows
the world what was best about us.
So it was with our brother, Benjamin Dudley Culp, who, after
suffering with depression for many years, ended his life in 1979.
But today, we can look at his photographs, which are full of life
and action and humor, and we can see his bright and open soul.
And this is how we can best remember him.
Now I understand
What you tried to say to me...
I would not listen, I did not know now
Perhaps I'll listen now."
lines from "Vincent" by Don McLean
F. Bartow Culp, April 2016
Benjamin was born Thursday, September 30, 1948. I was
fourteen and a half months old, so I don't remember life without
him. He was always my playmate. A funny, loving companion of
my early childhood into adolescence, and even college. I feel that
he approached all of his relationships with an open devotion; and
indeed, he had many friends throughout his life who can attest to
this. My nephew Jacob reminds me of how easily Benjamin made
friends and forged longlasting bonds with them.
One of my favorite stories of Benjamin happened during his
senior year of high school. A young man, a little older than
Benjamin, named Walter started appearing regularly at 69 King. It
seems Walter was in the Navy stationed in Charleston and
Benjamin had met him "who knows where" and befriended him.
Finally, our mother asked Benjamin who Walter was. His reply,
"Mom, he followed me home. Can I keep him? And so, we did!
Benjamin was passionate about his photographic work, too. He
seemed to reach out to each subject, whether animate or
inanimate. With many of the people he photographed it was
necessary to take the time to put them at ease in front of his lens.
Most of the photographs of his that I recall are more
contemplative in their approach. Even the ones of buildings seem
to offer more than just a two dimensional image. A photograph he
took of a house on the east side of Archdale Street demonstrates
this patient approach to his subject. It seems to be of a person
passing in front of a window of the house; but, it is actually the
shadow of the top of a column on the west side of the street. He
had waited till the setting sun had cast this shadow.
Benjamin's was a life too short. And yet, I am so thankful for all of
the memories I have of him and for the part of his work that
Dunlap Culp Silver, April 2016
Bennie Culp, My Brother
For the past 37 years every morning when I make up our bed I
stand in the spot where I answered my mother's call telling me
that Bennie had died. And I greet Bennie and my mother. (My
greeting to my father is directed out of the window into the world
of nature he loved so dearly.) Over the years the pain has
softened. Since January when Susi and I started working on the
show of Bennie's photographs, the conversation has been
As I look through the pictures for the show and go through the
letters and papers and the ephemera of a life too short, I find
things that I never saw before or have forgotten about. There are
the notes Bennie made about a series of pictures of houses being
demolished to make way for new buildings and an old picture of
the vibrant, intelligent and funny person my younger person was
that have helped me replace the pervasive shadow of his illness.
It makes me happy to be able to bring my younger brother into the
present and, even more to project him into the future.
Hunter Culp Levinshon, 21 May 2016
There have been many hands reaching out to help with this project and
there are many thanks to give: to the members of the Hillsborough Artist
Cooperative who have welcomed us to the Skylight Gallery once again!
To Kristin Ann Nordgren of the Makery in Durham, who helped us with the
technical aspects of the catalog, to Jackie Helvey of UniquecOrn
Enterprises who helped us get some of the photographs into a proper size
to scan for the catalog, to Jo Anna TourenCenter
who came all the way
from Paris to be a part of this, to Artie Axelbank and Jay Levinsohn for
their support throughout the project, to all who have come to the show,
especially to Bennie's friends, to my siblings, Bartow Culp and Dunlap
Silver who have been supportive in every way throughout the process!
A special thank you to Wojtek Wojdynski, master printer who took the
negatives I've had for 37 years and produced beautiful photographs. Not
only is Wojtek masterful, he is also a kind and wonderful teacher. We owe
much to his knowledge of the processes involved and his keen eye for
To my cocurator
Susi Lieff who made this all possible when she said to
me last fall that this show needed to happen and then said “And I will help
you.” I do not think either of us understood how much time and love would
be folded into this project or how involved we would be beyond
photographs, catalog, histories and statements.
Susi, there is no way to say thank you enough. Your friendship is a true
It is a joy to be here with all of you at this time and in this place.
Hunter Culp Levinsohn,21 May 2016