Art for everyone

Geoge Cadell (Photo by Gary Payne/Courtesy of the <em>Denton Record-Chronicle</em>)For 30 years, George Cadell has contorted steel and bronze into thought-provoking, emotional pieces for collectors and the public alike.

Artist George Cadell has a gallery as big as the United States. In fact, the U.S. is his gallery, with welded steel and bronze sculptures as far as California and North Carolina in homes of private buyers. However, it is his public art in Denton County and Oklahoma City of which he is most proud.

An Oklahoman, Cadell, who attended North Texas from 1974 to 1979 to study bronzing, is inspired by Southwest Native American culture and wildlife. For the past 30 years, he has lured collectors with his ability to contort steel and bronze into thought-provoking, emotional pieces. Whether it’s an old man’s grimace or the vibrancy of playful peacocks, Cadell captures heart-filled moments and encapsulates them at Texas’ public landmarks.

He says he finds public art gratifying, as it grows his viewership with people who otherwise may not be able to afford such pieces.

“When I do a sculpture for public art, I know that it has the opportunity to communicate to more people,” he says. “Private purchases mean that it will be there for only a few people to enjoy. Although many people may not have the money, they still can enjoy my public work.”

Commissioned by the city of Denton in 2009, he created a bronze statue that depicts Denton’s transformation from a prairie town to a collegiate, commercial city. Today, Above All Integrity sits in front of City Hall East near the center of Denton’s downtown area. And greeting West Tenth Baptist Church’s congregation in Oklahoma City is Cadell’s Christ Bearing His Cross made from welded steel.

Cadell also has a sculpture at Aubrey High School and one recently unveiled at Krum High School. His work has earned him the Community Arts Recognition award, the highest honor bestowed by the Greater Denton Arts Council, and his pieces were featured at the 2007 Gala for the Visual Arts Society of Texas.

A retired art teacher, Cadell taught at Denton High School for 26 years. He replaced his paint brush with a welding torch while studying at Central State University in Oklahoma, around the time North Texas began to offer bronzing in its art program.

The sculpting — molding, welding, casting — takes place at Cadell’s Crossroads foundry. He says bronzing is an intricate process that can span weeks to months, depending on the piece. First, a rubber mold is made from the original sculpture and wax is painted into the mold, picking up the exact surface of the original. When the wax casting is removed, it is dipped and coated with a solution that creates a shell around it. With extreme heat from a burnout furnace, the wax burns out and the shell hardens. The bronze is poured into the shell, and after the shell is “busted out,” the bronze is cooled and cleaned.

“If it’s a life-sized bust that has to be bronzed, it can take about a month to finish.” Cadell says.

Once the bronze is ready, a patina is applied for color. While other sculptors use a wide array of tones, Cadell mixes three patinas — Liver of Sulfur or potash (golden brown or black), ferric nitrate (gold, red or brown) and cupric nitrate (green or blue).

"My main reason for creating art is to communicate,” says Cadell, who returns to the themes of nature and old Native American civilization. “If people can see that I created something special, then I’ve been successful.”

2 comments

I was a student in Mr. Cadell's Commercial Art class at Denton High from 1982-84. He turned me on to photography, film processing, screen printing, and even computer graphics. Even though at the time he claimed he could not even figure out how to turn it on.

Not only did he teach the principles of design and color and how to cut Ruby-Lith and stretch a silk screen, he taught us about integrity, pride, and compassion. Not by books. By example. I recall having a party at his house one evening and we all loaded up and went to church with his family. He was just such an outstanding man.

His love of art runs so deep in his roots. He truly has a special connection with every piece he creates, for he creates from his soul, not his bank account. I remember the first piece I ever saw of his, as he would often bring pieces to class to work on. It was a towering tree with wild tree branches, but inside the hollow of the tree was the worn face of an Indian with tribal headdress and out stretched arms. He told me the story of what had inspired him to create this piece and of the old man's journey to find piece from his demons. He told me this with great big tears welling up in the corners of his eyes. He was touched by this man's story and he had relayed that story in gleaming steel and bronze.

I have three of his lesser known limited edition prints hanging in my home. And I would not trade one of them for any amount of money.

George Cadell trained me as a Graphic Designer in his Commercial Art class at Denton High and that is what I am today. I am proud to have had him as a teacher and even more as a friend. -- Kevin Beck Class of '84

Comment #1 posted by Kevin Beck (not verified) 6 years 25 weeks ago.

What a coincidence -- I was at his house just 2 weeks ago (June 14, 2010)!! Mr. Cadell was my Commercial Art teacher in 1979-80 at Denton High School. Several of my classmates and I were just at his house for a 30-yr "class" reunion. We joked about the old days in class, then got a personal tour of his Foundry. It was amazing to see all the work that goes into a single piece! His work is so beautiful. My lifelong love of art was enhanced in Mr. Cadell's class; he was a fantastic teacher. I'm so glad he was featured in NorthTexan. --Amy Layton, UNT staff

Comment #2 posted by Amy Layton (not verified) 7 years 35 weeks ago.

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