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The Pencil Is Mightier Than ... ? 

Wednesday, Sep 28 2011
A lot of artists use Staedtler pencils — the German company Staedtler is legendary in pencil-making, dating back 350 years, with only rival Faber-Castell AG, which dates to 1840, putting up any sort of a fight. (There is, indeed, a “pencil war” in Germany.) Those artists probably spend a lot of time contemplating their Staedtlers, gazing at the hexagonal sticks in an attempt to coax the muse out of the graphite and onto the paper. But as far as we know, only Australian artist Lionel Bawden looked at his Staedtler, grabbed cases more, and set to work with a knife and a tub of epoxy instead of paper. The results are organic, nearly psychedelic pencil sculptures, each composed of dozens to hundreds (thousands?) of bound Staedtlers and taking any number of organic cues, like cave deposits, polished driftwood, aquatic totems, and gnarled organs, tree and human. His descriptive titles include The Monsters (Like Some Colossal Python Which After Swallowing a Mountain Is Sluggishly Digesting the Meal) and The Caverns of Temporal Suspension (Between Two Sites). The latter looks a bit like the Rocky Horror mouth carved into the side of a mountain — if the mountain were made of Staedtler pencils. Bawden’s solo exhibit "The World of the Surface" is an impressive display of technique, metaphor, and raw artistic endurance. Faber-Castell doesn’t stand a chance.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. Starts: Oct. 1. Continues through Nov. 26, 2011

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Michael Leaverton

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