From Beeswax, Poetry
By Tom Wachunas
Encaustic \ in-ˈkȯ-stik (noun) : a paint made from pigment mixed with melted beeswax and resin and after application fixed by heat; also: the method involving the use of encaustic or a work produced by this method; from Latin encausticus, from Greek enkaustikos, from enkaiein to burn in, from en- + kaiein to burn
“…I am drawn to the idea of encasing the subject, so it can be studied at a later date…Through the layering of wax, adding color and texture I aim to create an environment which allows the viewer to bring to it their own story and hopefully enjoyment of that journey and also with anticipation invite the viewer back over and over again to find different elements not noticed in the original viewing….” - Dawn Tekler, from http://dawntekler.com/
EXHIBIT: Dawn Tekler: Mental Structures / In Studio M, at the Massillon Museum through February 24, 2019 / 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon, Ohio / 330.833.4061 /
On February 3, from 2-4pm, Dawn will be presenting an artist demonstration of her encaustic painting process.
Cleveland-based Dawn Tekler has written that this series of encaustic paintings began during her morning commutes along Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, prompting her vigorous attention to weather conditions, to the colors and textures of the atmosphere, and to the light reflected off the industrial landscape. She depicts unforgivingly flat terrains, with big, sweeping skies pierced by the earthy browns and rust tones of various buildings and towers, utility poles and power lines, or imposing trestle bridges.
Most painters know that photo-documentation of their work has its limitations. They’ll tell you that even the most technically advanced cameras and photographers are often simply incapable of accurately capturing the whole truth of a painting. As you look at the photos of Dawn Tekler’s pieces that I’ve included here (courtesy of the artist) keep in mind that what you can’t readily discern are the paintings’ alluringly tactile character, which is as sumptuous as it is subtle. But don’t just take my word for it.
Go to the gallery and feast your eyes. These works aren’t laden with the raised, curling edges of thick paint imprinted with brush trails that we often see in impasto technique. Instead, the picture planes are imbued with an ebb and flow energy that turns their waxy materiality into slow, smooth waves. So while you’re at it, go ahead and breach gallery etiquette. Be naughty, as if sneaking a taste of luscious icing on a cake. Run your fingers ever so gingerly along the paintings’ gently undulant surfaces. Sweet tooth indeed.
Some of the pictures are emblazoned with the electric, translucent hues of spectacular sunrises – lavish bursts of luminous air, as in Working Morning. In others, such as Ghost Bridge, the distant structure we see has been reduced to a skeletal remnant, veiled and embedded in misty light.
More ghostly and reductive still, Airy Equation is stunning in its sheer simplicity and quietude. Those wispy lines floating on and within the surface have a calligraphic elegance about them. Writings on the sky. With its muted glow of warm color peeking through that white air, the painting brings to mind a spirit present in varying degrees throughout the entire exhibit.
Some of the structures rendered here might have once been remarkable feats of practical engineering, dominating our field of vision in a decidedly bold manner, such as in Criss Cross, or Environment. Curiously enough, they also exude fragility, lyricism, and something even mystical. Call them meditations on the vestigial and the ethereal. In that, they’re the probative stuff of poetry.