May 14, 2011
The Woman in the Woods. A skeleton, a leather hair barrette, and some fake fingernails. That's all Frank Bender had to go on. But the famous forensic sculptor crafted a bust that turned out to be his final work in his lifelong quest to bring justice and closure to families of crime victims. Now he wants your help in identifying her. A hunter found her decomposing remains on Dec. 30, 2001, in the woods in Williams Township, Northampton County, off Route 78 outside Easton.
May 14, 2011 |
FRANK BENDER doesn't have much time left. A world-renowned forensic sculptor who's cracked countless cold cases by building busts of unknown murder victims and fugitive killers, the man whose prolific professional life has been all about death is now closer to death himself than ever. Doctors gave him mere months to live when they diagnosed him with pleural mesothelioma in late 2009. But on the eve of another summer he never thought he'd see, the ailing 69-year-old Southwest Center City resident is still a busy guy. Cancer has melted away four of his ribs, pain pills are part of his daily diet, and he needs naps and occasionally a few puffs of oxygen to restore his energy.
March 13, 2011 |
Philly-based forensic sculptor Frank Bender , who is famed for helping detectives ID victims and solve cold cases, is the subject of a documentary now in production. Bender and filmmaker Karen Mintz acknowledge that the film is a race against time. In the fall of 2009, doctors told Bender that his pleural mesothelioma was terminal. Mintz wants him to be able to see the film. Mintz - who met Bender several years ago and followed him as he created his final work, the bust of a woman whose body was found in 2001 near Easton, Pa. - is seeking funding to complete the project.
March 7, 2011 |
A new scholarship this fall at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts honors the late Selma Burke, a Bucks County sculptor whose work is familiar if you've ever studied your change. That picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime? It bears an uncanny resemblance to a bas-relief that Burke formed of FDR. Until her death 16 years ago at age 94, Burke would tell visitors to her Solebury Township studio of the presidential commission she won over 11 other sculptors. Lewis Tanner Moore, the Warrington collector of African American art, said Burke often recalled the day in 1944 when she unrolled a sheet of butcher paper across the Oval Office and sketched Roosevelt for 45 minutes in charcoal, while reminding him to sit still.
December 9, 2010 |
WEST PHILLY sculptor Clete Shields has been commissioned to create an 8-foot statue of country-music star Willie Nelson to be presented as a gift to the city of Austin, Texas, next year. Shields' previous work, for directors Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez , as well as for the Franklin Mint, captured the eye of Capital Area Statues Inc., the Texas group that commissioned the sculpture. It'll be made of clay, and later cast in bronze. The sculpture features Nelson holding an acoustic guitar.
October 22, 2010 |
After Margaret Davis' teenage daughter disappeared from a Kensington street corner one autumn night in 1979, Davis vowed never to move away or change her phone number, in hopes that one day her child would return. But 16-year-old Jacqueline Gough never came home, and when her body turned up two years later in the basement of an abandoned house, investigators couldn't figure out who she was. Unaware that her daughter had been found, Davis kept her vigil. It was noted forensic sculptor Frank Bender who eventually brought Davis peace.
September 8, 2010 |
Frank Bender lives. This I consider news, since the forensic sculptor wasn't supposed to see summer, let alone gallop into the fall. "Come check out my tan," he teased Tuesday, which seemed as good a reason as any to ditch my leftovers and buy us both lunch from Cafe Lutecia. When Bender greeted me at his South Street home/studio, he looked a bit like Vladimir Lenin in spray bronzer. "I still go up the stairs and run to catch the bus," quipped the energetic Dead Man Walking.
August 15, 2010 |
Charles "Chuck" Cuthbert Fahlen, 70, a sculptor who taught for 33 years at Moore College of Art and Design, died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday, July 28, at his home in Guerneville, Calif. When he retired from Moore in 2000, Mr. Fahlen exhibited work assembled from construction materials at Gallery Joe in Old City. In his review, Inquirer art critic Edward Sozanski wrote: "Fahlen has combined elements to contrast shape, color, and texture. . . . Fahlen's transformations reflect a formalist attitude rooted in the earliest collages - that all materials, no matter how humble, have aesthetic potential that can be liberated by a sensitive eye. " Sozanski concluded that "these sculptures remain vigorous years after they were made.
August 7, 2010 |
THE SIGN on the door into famed forensic sculptor Frank Bender's studio announces: "So this isn't home sweet home, adjust. " It's fair warning, given the sights inside. A rifle hangs suspended from the ceiling. "My father-in-law shot at me with that when I was dating his daughter," Bender says, beaming. "He missed my head by inches. " Handcuffs and two guns dangle alongside pans from a pot rack above the stovetop where Bender used to boil skulls in his pasta pot to deflesh them for reconstruction.
July 18, 2010 |
For artists who work in clay, creativity can involve as much muscle power as Eureka!-style inspiration. Rarely has this been more effectively demonstrated than in a video about Jun Kaneko called The Fremont Project. The video is an especially compelling element of a traveling exhibition of Kaneko's art now at the Reading Public Museum. In fact, there are two 20-minute videos in this show of 39 sculptures, paintings, and drawings. In one of them, Kaneko speaks. In the other, no one does, yet the creation story is so artfully revealed that words are superfluous.