Friday, July 29, 2011

Frank Bender

Today my mom asked me if I had ever heard of forensic sculpture and I replied that yes, I had and that Philadelphia happened to be the home of an amazing forensic sculptor. Seeing as this was a pretty random question, I asked my mom why... She told me that she had read an article about "a famous old guy" that had died yesterday and sure enough it was Frank Bender. He was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2009 and wasn't expected to live more than a few months, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer article, his daughter had said he lived longer than anyone had expected and that he had a pretty good year.

I feel like a forensic sculptor is not the type of job you dream of when you're little, but I think that Frank Bender definitely inspired sculptors. I remember when I told my first year figure modeling classes about him, they were so excited. You could tell that it opened up their minds to the wider possibilities of sculpture in the world and specifically how it can be used to help people, which I thought was a pretty big deal.

For anyone who has never heard of Frank Bender here is a bit about him from his website:

Frank Bender is an autodidact forensic and fine artist. His talent for forensic facial reconstruction, working first with the Philadelphia police department, then with the FBI, America’s Most Wanted, Scotland Yard and the governments of Mexico and Egypt, has made him widely recognized as a leader in his field.

Frank began his career as a commercial photographer. He had little formal training in sculpture, but one day, his fascination with anatomy brought him to the Philadelphia morgue. There he discovered a remarkable ability: the capacity to intuit the form and personality of a human face from its fleshless skull. Entrusted with the skull of a murder victim, he returned shortly with his first bust. Soon he had the first of many IDs: Anna Duvall. Several years later, after he received his first large monument commission, he closed his photography studio, ceased his advertising work, and set out on a second, very different career as a forensic and fine artist. Since the early 70s, Frank’s ceramic busts have led to the identification of numerous murder victims and the apprehension of fugitive killers. He has also provided faces to Akhmim mummies and the remains of a 5,300 year old man.

In 1989 America’s Most Wanted commissioned Frank to produce a bust of John Emil List. List was an accountant from New Jersey who, in 1971, killed his wife, mother and children, parked his car at Kennedy Airport and disappeared. The challenge was to show List as he would have looked after 18 years on the lam. Frank’s bust was perfect, down to the pair of square glasses that he intuited List would wear. Based on Frank’s model, List, now remarried and living in Denver, was identified by a neighbor, captured and convicted. America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh called it the most brilliant piece of detective work he had ever seen, and kept the John List bust in his office for many years.

Frank has a duel career as a fine artist. His watercolors, pastels, sculptures and monuments are in many private and public collections. These playful, emotionally charged works not only display his skills working across several mediums but, often informed by his forensic work, they are also exemplary cases of the connection between fine art and public service.

Images from and

Friday Giveaway!

Happy Friday everyone! Today we're giving away a Philadelphia Sculpture Gym totebag (upper right corner of above photo). All you have to do is head over to our Facebook page and tell us what type of rewards you'd like to see on our Kickstarter page (which will be launched Sept 1st!!) Not familiar with Kickstarter? Head on over and check it out here for in depth details, but essentially its a website that allows individuals and groups to raise money for specific creative projects. Each donation level offers a reward (ie a $25 donation to the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym gets you, say, a 1 day pass, or a t-shirt.) so everyone who gives something will get something. The only catch is that its an all or nothing deal, so if you don't reach your goal amount, no one gets charged and no money is raised. Alot of really amazing projects meet or exceed their goals and the rewards are really amazing and often very creative! So stay tuned for more details about our Kickstarter page, but in the meantime help us out by letting us know what types of rewards you want to see on our Facebook page for a chance to win a Philadelphia Sculpture Gym totebag! You have until midnight on July 31st to enter and the winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moldmaking and Beer go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly

No, this is not a Philadelphia Brewing Company ad (though it could be...sculptors love beer, right?!) Before Justin started making a waste mold for a student of mine last night, the big question was not "metal shims or clay walls?" (we've done both in the past and are going through a metal shims phase again at the moment) or "casting in Hydrocal or Ultracal?" (the client wants Hydrocal) was "What kind of beer should I get?"...(We decided on the mixed case from Philadelphia Brewing Company...yay for local breweries!) And when I asked him to take photos of the piece during the process, this glass of Kenzinger somehow snuck into the frame, which made me laugh. Neither of us drink much, or often, but there is something about making molds that doesn't quite feel right without a cold beer in hand at the end. Cheers to that!

To any non-drinking readers, our apologies if this seems one-sided. We don't want anyone to feel left out. If no beer is available, ice cream has been known to produce a similar feeling of contentment post-mold making. For me, a Chipwhich in particular...Enjoy your after mold making delights...whatever they may be!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brian Dettmer


House of Tongues, 2010, Altered Book, 7-3/4" x 14" x 10-1/4"

Military Preventive Medicine, 2010, Altered Book, 9 1/4" x 8 7/8" x 2 1/2"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Third time's a charm?

Here is our updated 2011 event calendar for the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym! We've moved our Sculpture Tool Making workshop to September and listed the date that our Kickstarter page will kickoff (stay tuned for more info!). Also, because we usually do some sort of giveaway with our workshops and this weekend's got canceled, check back Friday for a chance to win some sort of Philadelphia Sculpture Gym fabulousness...!(click on calendar to enlarge image)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tomorrow's sculpture tool workshop cancelled due to heat

Half of our attendees have already cancelled due to the excessive heat, so we'be decided to postpone tomorrow's sculpture tool workshop until September. We'll release a revised event calendar next week so stay tuned! Until then, have a great weekend and stay cool!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Like threading a needle...with 2000 lb thread

Justin works as an art handler and is co-branch manager of Crozier Fine Art's Philadelphia branch. He and his co-conspirator, I mean, co-manager, Eric McDade do all kinds of crazy things with art...moving it, installing it, packing it, shipping it... You might not think that any of these things would be crazy enough to involve forklifts but you would most certainly be wrong... Take, for example, the 13 foot long crates of Ai Wei Wei's 'Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads' that they had to move this week...

This is just one of two flatbeds that came bearing crates...Yikes!

Yup, those are big crates...

Justin taking the crates off the flatbed with the forklift...

and backing it into the loading dock.

Then he and Eric switched the crate from one forklift to another... Eric could put it up onto the dock...

...and it could then be transported through a hole not much bigger than the crate itself... Whew!

Only to be done all over again for the other crates...! I'm not just saying this because he is my husband but Justin is AMAZING at packing, moving, installing, etc artwork, especially big and seemingly impossible projects like this one. So if you are like Ai Wei Wei and need your stuff moved and stored somewhere, give these guys a holler!

Call for Artists: Made - New Hope Arts

m a d e
1st Annual Fine Contemporary Artisans Show

New Hope Arts Center, 2 Stockton Ave., 2nd Floor, New Hope PA 18938
Located between New York and Philadelphia on the Delaware River. New Hope is an arts destination.

Eligibility: The exhibition is open to all artisans working in Glass, Metal, Jewelry, Fiber, Paper and Ceramics. Innovative and non-traditional works are encouraged. All works must be for sale and suitable for installation. New Hope Arts retains a 35% commission on all sales.

Jurors: Jurors consider works based on artistic excellence and aesthetic vision. A prize will be awarded in each category.

Paula Winokur is a ceramic artist, receiving a BFA from Tyler School Art. Now Professor Emerita, she taught ceramics and 3-D design at Arcadia University and has been awarded grants from the NEA and the PA Council on the Arts. Her work is in numerous collections nationally and internationally. She was connected with the Helen Drutt Gallery for 30 years.

Karen Misher is a practicing artist and Associate Professor at Arcadia University. She
holds a post-baccalaureate certificate in metalsmithing and a MFA in sculpture from the University of the Arts. She has a BFA in Printmaking and Graphic Design from Arcadia University and exhibits her work locally at the Works Gallery.

Marketing: New Hope Arts will actively market the exhibition through local and regional media.

Submission: Each artist may submit 5 pieces for consideration. In addition to the primary image, artists may submit a second view or detail. Images should be in unaltered .jpeg format, 800x800 pixel maximum per image. All CDs must be accompanied by an application form, current resume, artist statement and a $20.00 nonrefundable check made out to New Hope Arts. The artist’s name should appear on the disc only, and the order of the images must correspond to the list on the application form. Discs will not be returned and images of accepted work may be used by New Hope Arts for publicity and marketing purposes.

Delivery: Artists are responsible for delivering and picking up work. Artists are also responsible for
shipping fees to and from exhibition. Specifics will be included with the acceptance notice. Insurance: All work is insured for the duration of the show.

Application Deadline: Postmarked September 2, 2011

Acceptance Notification: September 10, 2011 by email

Artwork Delivery: September 23, 24, 25, 2011, 12-5 pm

Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony: October 8, 2011, 6-8 pm

Exhibition Dates: October 8-30, 2011, Thursday-Sunday, 12-5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Philadelphia Salon

This Monday, I attended a meeting at the home of Caryn Kunkle, the woman behind The Philadelphia Salon, a monthly event where artists get together to eat, discuss and critique. The space is amazing and the event sounds wonderful, so if you are free on the last Wednesday of the month and are craving some awesome food, conversation and art, I suggest you check it out!

From The Philadelphia Salon's blog:

The Philadelphia Salon is an organization run by artists for the common good of the artists and patrons who participate. The collective is the brainchild of artist and innovator, Caryn Kunkle, who saw a need for a place where local intellectuals could gather and host a dialogue to understand and advance a particular subject. At The Philadelphia Salon the subject is art. Once a month Kunkle hosts a Salon for members of the art world to come participate in conversation during dinner, and afterwards critique artwork that guests bring for sharing with the group. We also curate regular shows that are free to the public and give an average return of 80% of sales directly to the artist. The space we exhibit in ranges from empty real estate, to private penthouses, to established exhibition designations. We aim to connect local patrons to local artists in personal and direct ways.

Learn more about The Philadelphia Salon at:

In 2007, Kunkle began hosting The Philadelphia Salon’s monthly meetings in one of Philadelphia’s finest pieces of lost history, the old Baird Mansion on North Broad Street. You are always welcome to attend a Salon dinner, it is held every last Wednesday of the month. Kunkle also gets the word out for lots of folks around town about show opportunities, art events, grants, and current exhibitions.

Follow shows on twitter at:

And on Facebook at:

Friday, July 15, 2011


Hey guys! We hate to do this but we have to postpone the sculpture tool workshop until next weekend due to technical difficulties (aka bandsaw parts on backorder). So it will be the same time/same place next Saturday, July 23rd. Sorry for the change!!! Hope to see you there!

Opening Tonight at Fleisher Art Memorial

Looking for something to do tonight? Check out the Fleisher Faculty Exhibition, opening tonight from 6-8pm. Here's some info from their website! Have a great weekend!!!

JULY 11 – AUGUST 19, 2011
Opening reception: Friday, July 15, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

The Fleisher Art Memorial is pleased to showcase the artwork of its teaching staff with the 113th Fleisher Faculty Exhibition, July 11th through August 19th, 2011. Each artist in the exhibition will show works selected from his or her current studio investigations—including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, photography and installation. The opening reception will be held Friday, July 15th, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. The reception will also feature the announcement of the 2011 Faculty Fellowship Awardees. Admission to the exhibition and reception is free and open to the public. Gallery hours at Fleisher are 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday, and 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Friday. The Fleisher Art Memorial is located at 719 Catharine Street.

The 99 professional artists who taught at Fleisher over the past year are dedicated to the high standards of art education that have characterized Fleisher's 113-year history. The active pursuit of dual professions in art-making and art education are evident in the busy teaching and exhibition schedules kept by the instructors. Many of the instructors serve on the faculties of area universities, colleges, and art centers in addition to helping Fleisher provide the highest quality art instruction to students of all ages.

The Fleisher faculty members included in the 113th Fleisher Faculty Exhibition come from all areas of the greater Philadelphia region:

Michael Ajero · Jill Allen · Bill Auge · Pat Aulisio · Katie Baldwin · Karen Baumeister · David Berger · Alyse Bernstein · Lisa Berry · Stanley Bielen · Christine Blair · Erin Broadhurst · Bill Brookover · Joanne Bryant · Quincy Carpenter · Giovanni Casadei · Louise Clement-Hoff · Elissa Collier · Bernard Collins · Benjamin Cromie · Sandra Davis · Jeff Dentz · Elyse Deroisa · Nicole Dul · James Dupree · Paul DuSold · Marie Elcin · Elaine Erne · Linda Fernandez · Gina Fisichella · Sarah Folger · Darien Fripps · Colette Fu · Michael Fujita · Fran Gallun · Emmanuel Gonzalez · Christina Groff · David Guinn · Sharon Gunther · Albert Gury · Geri Harkin-Tuckett · Sharon Hildebrand · Cathy Hopkins · Darla Jackson · Marilyn Johnson · Amber Johnston · Keir Johnston · Julieann Julia · Frederic Kaplan · Christianne Kapps · Jillian Kesselman · Rocky Kev · Dave Krevolin · Elizabeth Latham · Tom Leonard · Brad Litwin · Marc Lombardi · Emily Brett Lukens · Ernel Martinez · Joyce Mansfield-Divine · Samantha McConnell · Kathryn McFadden · Matt Miller · Liana Moskowitz · Cat Niallon · Lauren Parker · Michelle Platt · Kaye (Frances) Pullen · Doug Randall · Stephanie Renee · Robert Reinhardt · Ron Ribant · Hiro Sakaguchi · Ahmed Salvador · Tad Sare · Melanie Serkes · John Sevcik · Marisha Simons · Christopher Smith · Nancy Sophy · Emily Squires · Carol Stirton-Broad · Mike Storm · Brianna Tadeo · Tom Thomas · Stefani Threet · Josephine Tsai · James Victor · Nikki Virbitsky · Lisa Volta · Mariel Waloff · Jacob Wells · Lee Wilkinson · Michelle Wilson · Wendy Woloson · Joni Woods · Rick Wright · Chamroeun Yin · Constantina Zavitsanos

Thursday, July 14, 2011

THIS SATURDAY! Sculpture Tool Making Workshop!

Just a reminder that this Saturday at 2pm is our sculpture tool workshop. Please email us at philadelphiasculpturegym [at] gmail [dot]com if you would like to attend! (We're asking for a $10 donation towards matching our Knight Arts Challenge grant from each attendee.) Here's a repost of the important info...Hope to see you there!

Always wanted to make your own sculpture tools? Do you find that store bought varieties don't quite do the trick? Well fret not, dear readers, because Philadelphia Sculpture Gym has you covered! We are offering a workshop on how to make your own sculpture tools this July! Come learn how to cut out the basic shape of the tool using a bandsaw and shape it on a sander. We'll cover a shape similar to whats pictured but feel free to ask questions and experiment with different varieties.

We are asking for $10 per person, which will go toward matching the Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. (If you are feeling saucy and want to give more we won't stop you!) Wood and sandpaper are included, but if you have some wood scraps you'd really like to use, feel free to bring them. We will also have butcher's wax on hand (for finishing the tools) as well as some safety glasses for use while at the machines.

The details are:

When: Saturday, July 16th, 2011 at 2pm

Where: 3237 N. Amber Street, 3rd Floor North, Philadelphia, PA 19134 (Easily accessible by car, bike or public transportation)

Why: Because those store bought modeling tools just aren't cutting it.

How to sign up: Email us at philadelphiasculpturegym[at] and let us know you'll be there. Please RSVP so we can make sure we have enough materials for everyone.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Call for Artists: Playable Art Park

Here's a call for artists!

Playable Art Park Public Sculpture Competition

The Sandy Springs Conservancy and Art Sandy Springs in joint venture, with a grant from Northside Hospital, seek to acquire original, permanent, interactive works of art for the proposed Playable Art Park at Abernathy Greenway.

The art work should:

  • promote the concept of art in public open and green spaces
  • introduce children to fine art through safe, interactive outdoor play
  • promote public health and wellness through active outdoor play
  • provide a desirable amenity to the City of Sandy Springs and its community


The Playable Art Park at Abernathy Greenway is a new idea for a new location. Abernathy Greenway is a 20-acre linear park now under construction by the City of Sandy Springs, located just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Abernathy Greenway, about a mile long, will be new greenspace on the north and south sides of Abernathy Road, a major traffic artery in Metro Atlanta used by tens of thousands of drivers each day. The Greenway master plan calls for lighted walking trails, a playground, gardens, patios and plazas for both active and passive recreation. Greenway construction began in 2009, with a focus on completing north-side amenities first. These are scheduled to open to the public in Spring, 2012.

The Playable Art Park, approximately half an acre with six sculpture installation zones, will be located on the north side and is set to open Fall, 2012.


Up to $40,000 per sculpture

Awards total $240,000

Proposals Accepted

July 1 to October 1, 2011

The full RFP is available at:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekend Recap

So we had great plans for Saturday involving the Berlin Farmer's Market...unfortunately they were a bust. Our first thought was to get a 20 x 40 tarp for when we go camping later this summer...(We had gotten a new one last year but a crazy 30 minute long thunderstorm destroyed it...or rather the storm dumped so much water on the tarp that it was causing the poles of the structure to buckle so Justin had to hack the bungees off the tarp, which ripped the tarp...It was really funny afterward but during it was terrifying...needless to say, we made it out alive!) But the guy who sells them was out of the one we wanted (silver coated on both sides and UV protected) and said to come back next week...

My reason for being there was to get a piece of Ebony from this guy who had tons of small chunks of it last year when we were there. Since we are having the sculpture tool making workshop this upcoming Saturday, I wanted to make mine out of Ebony... but the guy wasn't there and we came home empty handed.

We did check out some of the tools they had but need to inventory what we have/need before buying anything new.

Justin was a fan of this little pancake compressor as he's wanted a more portable one for a while but we restrained ourselves...

Where we did NOT restrain ourselves was on the backroads of Hammonton, NJ, where we stopped and bought 3 pints of the most amazing blueberries ever! (3 for $5!!!) We ate a pint before even getting to my parents and once Olivia was awake those blueberries didn't have a chance...All 3 pints were gone by the next morning (So we got 6 more pints on the way home!!).

I grew up in Tuckerton, NJ and my parents still live there so we went for a visit... It was great seeing O'Rae run around and play where I used to.

Daddy/daughter love...

The weather was beautiful and there were tons of boats and jet skis out, along with people fishing and crabbing. Olivia got to see 3 giant crabs which made her super happy and a little freaked out. We finished up the day with some Japanese food and swimming at my Aunt and Uncle's house. Sunday, after eating an awesome breakfast that my dad made, we headed back to reality (aka Philadelphia) to do some work on the house and some Philadelphia Sculpture Gym planning...Whew.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friends of Philadelphia Sculpture Gym: Margaux Kent

I just found out our friend Margaux Kent (of The Black Spot Books and Peg and Awl) has created a Blurb book of her photographs. Anyone who has ever seen Margaux's work will know how amazing this book will be...And anyone who hasn't seen her work, should take a look! Aside from being an extremely talented photographer, Margaux also makes jewelry and gorgeous handmade leather books (One of which I got for a birthday present from Justin this year...its perfect!). She's also half of Peg and Awl, where she and her hub Walter make beautiful things out of reclaimed wood... (We'll be featuring Peg and Awl here on the blog soon so keep your eyes peeled for more info!)

Anyway, go here to check out Margaux's book. !!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Awesome things to do in Philadelphia: Philly Stake

This weekend we submitted our application for Philly Stake, a "locally sourced, recurring dinner in which money is raised for creative & relevant community engaged projects. As a micro granting program, community members become creators". The next dinner is Sunday, July 17th at Bartram's Gardens and we are hoping to be picked as one of the 10 projects chosen to present at the event!

How it works: You pay a sliding scale ($10-$20) for a 3 course dinner of in season, local ingredients. During the dinner, 10 groups or individuals present their projects. The attendees vote on the idea they would most like to fund and at the end, one of the projects is awarded a micro grant. Amazing...!

The menu from the last Philly STAKE dinner...mmmmmm...

For more information, take a look at their website. Also check out this article in the Daily News and their Facebook page. According to the article spaces fill up fast so if you are interested be sure to secure a spot early!

images from