Mr. Right

mr. right30″ x 40″, Acrylic on canvas, 2004      (Collection of the Artist)

In “Mr.Right” Riel adapts the children’s nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle” to further explore the myth of the perfect soulmate – in this case the ideal man, the knight in shining armor who will ride up on a white horse and sweep a woman off her feet. How can the average man compete with this, Riel seems to ask, while The Best Man plays a gleeful jig in a starlit cemetery, and a cow jumps over the moon. It is high melodrama to be sure, as well as a most exasperating youthful vision. Is it not time to bury the notion of Mr.Right once and for all, along with it’s many unrealistic expectations? Alas, this may be easier said than done, easier to paint than accomplish. Etched on the gravestone are the words, “Mr.Right, forever in the hearts of women.” Like the trickster Iktomi and Dracula, Mr.Right may be hard to kill. Some mythic figures display remarkable death-defying resilience. Not only must the average young man compete for female attention with imaginary suitors from the past, he must also contend with men whose mythic proportions have been sculpted in the present.- ALLAN J. RYAN, Riel Benn’s “Best Man”: An Unlikely Successor to Iktomi’s Trickster Legacy, AMERICAN INDIAN ART MAGAZINE, SPRING 2010.