The Mile High Gay Guy
Ben Workman, aka Jumper Maybach, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1963. He knew something special had taken place when his grandfather applied a white face on him the first time. It was then within an instant that Jumper was born.
Jumper’s grandfather served as a volunteer clown within various charity organizations for 25 years and at the time of his death in 1977, at the age of 84, he served as the official clown for the Corpus Christi State School. The young Jumper moved to Houston, Texas in 1977 with his family and embarked on various learning studies that have contributed to the diversity in his paintings. However, it wasn’t until a religious experience during a painful time in his life enabled his vision to fully take shape. “This is the part that a lot of people wrote me off as crazy,” states Jumper. “I was being sexually harassed at work and was at a really low point in my life. One afternoon I went into a deep meditative prayer and that’s when what I call a ‘spark’ rushed into me that raised up Jumper. I truly believe God was talking to me and directing me in the mission through my art. I never painted before that spark.”
Jumper believes it is a person’s traumas that define an individual. He releases his joys and pain into the art and becomes the storyteller of the creations. Jumper’s techniques are self-taught through intense experimentation leading to an end result which is truly unique and representative of the artist. It’s about understanding love, peace and the transformation of an individual.
“Please forgive me if I talk about Jumper as a separate entity within me but that is the case. I have learned to accept the ridicule from almost everyone,” he jokes. “When Jumper began his painting, it began from a vision which he titled ‘Alien in the Box’. It was a story of Jumper in the circus and helping children understand they are loved unconditionally. Jumper’s painting evolved rapidly from childlike to the amazing abstracts he is known for today.”
Jumper’s art is a constant evolution of color and complete abandonment of the paint. It is an unplanned performance that creates the extraordinary works. The complexity within Jumper’s art comes from within. Jumper is unashamed to teach the world a lesson in compassion. His art is a beacon for ending hate, bullying, and intolerance in the world.
Not long after Jumper began his career as an artist, he started to receive national and international recognition for his work. In 2013, Jumper held his first gallery show, which ultimately led to an exhibition at Art Dubai. It was there that Jumper received a documentary film deal and was dubbed the Jackson Pollock of the 21st century.
“I was told by the Minister of Arts and Culture, ‘you’re the 21st Century Jackson Pollock with a lot of color.’ I was intrigued by the statement and a friend gave me a copy of Pollock’s documentary when I returned home. I viewed the film and was amazed at Pollock’s talents. I’m honored to be compared to Pollock,” recalls Jumper.
Shortly after Art Dubai, Jumper had the opportunity to present 39 pieces of art in Venice, Italy. Another career highlight occurred when Jumper was invited to exhibit his art at the Galerie Du Louvre. “I made a series specifically for Paris. It was a great honor to have my art in the Louvre. It all seems so surreal.”
Jumper appreciates the opportunities he has been given and takes time to give back to multiple LGBTQ organizations around the country through both financial and artistic contributions. He and his partner David actively support GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, AIDS Foundation Houston, The Montrose Center, Houston Gay Pride and the Trevor Project in addition to other local and national charities.
Jumper believes one of the largest challenges facing the LGBTQ community is the community itself. “We can’t fight intolerance and bullying when we play along with the bigots. I know so many LGBTQ friends who are out in our “safe” community but at their workplace they play “straight”. This is a cause for alarm. When you can’t live a free healthy life at work, then you’re in an unsafe work environment.”
He goes on to explain that this form of environment creates an atmosphere for bullies. “If you discover your environment as unsafe after coming out, then sue or leave. I must say, see my documentary The Jumper Maybach Story to understand what being outed can lead to. I personally chose to stay and fight. If we all did this, change would occur. It takes tremendous strength and courage to fight bullies.”
Jumper also offers words of encouragement to other developing artists. “LGBTQ artists should be free to be themselves. Art is a very personal experience. A great artist knows why they create their art. Sometimes the art is created from severe personal pain and at other times, it could be happiness. I would urge artists to reach deep within and discover that reason. If they can’t discover that reason, then their art will never make it to greatness. Art is not easy. It’s a gift from your soul.”
In the next decade, Jumper would like to actively pursue his mission of ending hate, bullying and intolerance through art. “I want my art to cause the viewer to step back and realize why Jumper created it. If it causes the viewer to take a breath and let Love enter their heart, then Jumper has fulfilled his mission.”