In 50 years of practicing dentistry, Richard Bennett carved a lot of crowns and bridgework. Since he retired, Richard has discovered his skills translated well to sculpting raw stone into art.
His stone carving “Out to Pasture” is a winner in this year’s system-wide Art is Ageless® competition. Winners were chosen from the top local entries at all 18 Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities. Richard’s piece will be featured in the 2016 Art is Ageless calendar, along with the works of more than 50 artists age 65 and older throughout Kansas and Missouri.
Bennett found the block of limestone, roughly 12 by 8 inches, on his farm in the Flint Hills.
“I made a frame on outside, then inside I cut deep into it and brought this horse out of it,” he said. “I think I’m about as pleased with that piece as any I’ve done.”
It’s only been about five years since Richard made his first sculpture. He was looking at a tall, oblong rock on his patio when he suddenly thought, “could I carve this into a tooth?” And he set out to learn the tools and techniques of sculpting stone.
A few years later, he brought home a 100-pound chunk of white marble from the quarry in Marble, Colo. He worked the stone for about three months to create a large holiday-themed urn he called “Christmas in Marble.” That piece won the Christmas category at the Emporia Art is Ageless competition this year. His “Bowl of Fruit” took Best in Show last year at the local level.
Just as he did with dental work, Richard said he has to visualize the final piece before he makes the first cut. Now, however, he says the stone speak to him. After a trip to Guatemala, he sculpted an image of a Mayan woman that he said “came out of the rock alive.”
“It’s just meaningful to see something in there and bring it to life,” Richard continued. “They’ve been hiding in there for millions of years.”
In addition to Richard’s carving, three other artists from Emporia will be featured on the calendar or greeting cards.
Calendar: Nancy McKinzie, drawing, “Mountain Colors” and John King, painting, “Reflections”
Greeting Card: Paul Johnston, painting, “Canna Lilies”