Rest In Peace Ben Moreno
Rest in peace my dear friend Ben Moreno. I will so miss your generous compassionate heart, our friendly spats over politics, sharing our love of music and art, your amazing talent and your wicked humor. Ben was an ridiculous artist, but more importantly a super cool human. To say he was generous or kind- hearted doesn’t even come close.
When Dawn and I first started on this crazy path to the poorhouse, we needed to find an artist to help design our wine label. After doing some deep CIA style investigative work, I found out that the artist, who created one of my favorite labels “Freakshow” was Ben Moreno. It took some doing, you see, no one really wanted to cough up the man behind the art. We flew out to Zinfest in Lodi, Ca. and casually asked the pourers at the Michael David tent, “Who designed the Freakshow label?” It was if we had asked them what their margins were. Online in our hotel that night, I found a small article in a local journal, who divulged the man behind the curtain. Now I had to figure out where he was. With remote work being the norm, I figured he could live anywhere. Another item on our agenda for our Lodi trip was to visit a few local wineries, to see if they would be interested in working with us. We visited E2 Family Winery in Lodi, Ca and met Elishia and Steve Ehlers. Such a lovely family! So down to earth and warm. They asked us if we had someone in mind to design our label, because if we didn’t, they would highly recommend Ben Moreno. They sincerely loved Ben. It’s a beautiful thing when the stars align.
Ben was so patient with us during the design process of our 5k wine label, Marathon Sparkling Wine label as well as our Grateful Grapes Wine Company logo. Neither Dawn nor I have a background in art. Ben schooled me on printing processes, graphic design, the wine industry, and so much more over the last 4 years. We talked frequently and texted often. He was obsessed with his cat Simba in a good way and he would brag hard core about his son Jeremy. I enjoyed turning him onto new musicians or artists that I would come across. He really wanted to do a comic book someday and I can’t help but hope, there’s remnants of that dream somewhere.
Cancer treatment not only wreaks havoc on the body, but it also messes with the mind. Ben fought depression and anxiety after each treatment for long stretches of time. The holidays were particularly hard on him. One year was so rough on him, that I became so concerned that I flew out to Ca. to see him. His depression was getting worse, and he was having a hard time leaving his house. He was super frustrated with his doctors. When I arrived, he wouldn’t see me at first. Then he did a drive by while I was walking in downtown Lodi. The next day he agreed to see me. This was our first in person meeting. Not surprisingly, it was as if we had seen each other before. We had a great time. He commented on how mature my attire was which cracked me up. I can talk like a truck driver sometimes, so maybe he pictured me in a flannel and a trucker cap, lol. He showed me art he was working on, art from the past and his ridiculously cool drawing tool. It was an honor to see him work.
The one thing that struck me the most about Ben was his eagerness to help others. These days, it’s hard to find people that will do something without expecting something in return. I had a hard time getting Ben to except money from me. He loved that our labels were going to support charity efforts. For him to be so generous with someone he never met in person was truly remarkable. I had to get really creative sometimes when there wasn’t a newly released Xbox or smart watch or iPhone. Sometimes I sent super silly stuff accompanied by healthy items. Like an idiot I once sent essential oils and a without wrapping the oils. Glass breaks my friends. He said the box smelled amazing though, lol. One time I sent him sheets and a duvet, which almost cost me our friendship. He could not figure out how to get the comforter in the duvet and he was really getting pissed about it. I sent him a YouTube video and still no luck. Man was he mad at that duvet. He probably burned that duvet.
Because of our friendship being long distance, it’s been tough wrapping my head around the fact that he’s gone. I almost messaged him the other day when I ran across a crazy cat GIF. I imagine this will happen for a while.
Thank you, Ben, for all your mentoring, mad graphic artist skillz, generosity, caring and friendship. I know you love that cat meme.
Rest in Peace.