Douglas Mehrens’ fascination with encaustic art started some 30 years ago, when he combined crayons with a burning candle. A lifelong fascination was ignited, and Mehrens went on to form Cerrillos’ Encaustic Art Institute.
Standing strong for over a decade, the institute came together with the mission of becoming “established as a national center for encaustic art by collaborating with other encaustic organizations” and to “promote expanded awareness of the encaustic medium to the public.”
So, what is encaustic? It’s an artform with ancient roots that produces very modern results.
Heat is employed to melt beeswax that combined with dammar resin (crystallized tree sap) produces a thick varnish, strong enough to caulk ship hulls.
Employing a true OCD approach, pigments can be added to the substance, and then, each layer is reheated to fuse with its predecessor.
On Friday, five artists—including Mehrens—“push the boundaries of encaustic art” in Eggman & Walrus’ Wax-Ability.
“I had a goal to try finding a way to transform my photographic images into one-of-a-kind art,” participating artist Marilyn Angel Wynn tells SFR. After toiling with several alternatives, she was most intrigued by encaustic and its “enchanting mix of imagery.”
“Once encaustic wax is applied, the images become archival, thereby eliminating the need of traditional glass and frame presentation,” Wynn says of the end results.
The resulting pieces, like “Diné Patterns #2” (pictured) take the traditional and infuse it with a dose of contemporary cool.
Given the medium’s singular characteristics, Wynn says each artist’s pieces are a world apart from the others.
“Because of their approaches and materials, these five artists are showing encaustic works that transcend the genre in exciting ways by exhibiting a fascinating selection of paintings and sculptures,” she says, for lack of a better term, waxing poetic.