It All Began with a Love for a Mythical Bird
There are those works of art that are one-in-million, and then there are those that are once-in-a-lifetime. ICON Artworks, a locally-owned company specializing in cast bronze sculptures that not only delight the eye but intoxicate the senses, is creating one-of-a-kind works of art using the ancient “lost-wax” method of casting bronze, a timeless, classic medium.
“Cast bronze dates back thousands of years, and is the ultimate realization for fine art sculpted of clay because of its flawless rendering of detail,” says Matt Palmer, owner. “The lost-wax casting method dates back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and enables our artisans to create works of art with unparalleled richness when it comes to textures and patinas.”
“Our signature line of sculpture is cast bronze, but we also specialize in cast pewter due to its malleability, durability, permanence and lower production cost,” adds Palmer, who credits his uncle, Robin Richerson, for the inspiration behind his business.
When growing up in suburban Kansas City, Palmer gravitated towards the works of Richerson, owner of Visage Fine Arts Studio in Kansas City, Kansas. Richerson has been an active artist for more than two decades, creating more than 100 bronze sculptures that can be found in galleries, schools and private collections around the world.
“I have admired his art since I was a kid,” reflects Palmer, noting Richerson was mentored for four years by the famed Chinese-American sculptor Kwan Wu, a world-renowned artist best known for his figurative sculptures.
“Mr. Wu is one of the best sculptors in the world,” explains Palmer, referencing some of Wu’s locally prestigious works, such as the George Brett statue at Kaufman Stadium and the Phog Allen figure at the University of Kansas.
Palmer instinctively knew that collaborating with his uncle would result in something truly amazing.
“I originally pitched the idea for this business to my uncle in late 2009 and convinced him to make me some birds,” notes Palmer with a laugh, referring to the Jayhawk. Palmer is a proud graduate of the University of Kansas and life-long Jayhawks fan.
Whether desk-top size or life size, ICON Artworks is making a name for itself through its creations. Within the last year, the company has sculpted the six historical editions of the famed mascot, from 1912, 1920, 1923, 1929, 1941 and 1946, all officially licensed by the university.
“We worked closely with KU to accurately depict these images,” says Palmer. “This is the first time ever that the six official Jayhawk images have been created in sculpture. Our dream is to create an eight-foot monumental Evolution of the Jayhawk in cast bronze for KU’s campus.”
ICON Artworks initially creates an original clay prototype to which the fine detail is added. They have the flexibility of producing alternate sized sculptures cast in a variety of materials by utilizing 3D Laser Scanning technology which captures the exact shape and texture of any object. This method dramatically reduces the production timeline, enabling them to go from scan to mold quickly to produce precise replicas in any size.
“We also have the ability to do this in fiberglass and resin, but our focus now is on bronze and pewter,” says Palmer.
ICON Artworks’ Jayhawk Desktop Sculptures are eight inches tall, including a marble base that can be laser engraved and customized for any occasion. ICON Artworks can be commissioned to create sculptures in most any size. Because cast bronze is timeless and pewter does not rust or deteriorate, the sculptures can be enjoyed for generations.
Palmer envisions great opportunity to create mascots for schools across the nation.
“Colleges and universities have some of the most passionate and loyal fans in the world,” notes Palmer. “And ICON Artworks will tap into that tremendous spirit with our new series of collegiate icons, starting with a mythical bird that is very dear to our hearts.”
The Jayhawk sculptures can be purchased through the company’s online gallery and are also available at Framewoods in Lawrence.
For more information, visit IconArtworks.com or call 913.602.8981.