Wolfgang Hebel Sculpture

My parents, Stuart and Isabel Mace, met Wolf in 1991 during a trip to Alaska celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Wolf’s handwritten biography was written for the art that they brought back to sell at the Toklat Gallery, one of which was this amazing sculpture.
— Lynne Mace

Wolfgang Hebel Sculpture

Fossil bone and ivory sculpture

“Born in 1935 in Berlin, Germany. Grew up in Braunschweig, Germany, where I also learned the trade as a glassblower for laboratory supplies and later for neon signs. I emigrated to Canada, BC in 1961, hitchhiked from there to California in 1962. After almost five year working in my trade in the Los Angeles area, I traveled by pickup truck, with two friends, to Alaska.

Here in Anchorage, Alaska I worked for the first time in my life as a self-proclaimed artist, by painting signs for businesses and murals in bars. After making it thru my first Alaskan winter, I spend the following summer paddling down the Yukon River, from Eagle, Alaska to Holy Cross. After a short vacation in Germany, I returned to Anchorage AK in 1969. I got married to an Eskimo woman and also became a U.S. citizen. The next two years I spend back on the Yukon, mostly living in an almost deserted Indian village, 30 miles upriver from Ruby (Kokvines).

In 1971 I moved with my growing family to Fairbanks, Alaska, and started working at the U. of A. as a bio-technician. While working at the university and living in town, the exposure to artwork, in particular soapstone carvings, awakened my hidden urge to create. When my first soapstone carving sold quickly after the encouragement of a friend, I was soon carving soapstone in a big way. By 1975 we decided to go back to a simpler way of life. After selling our house, we moved to Ruby, AK back to the Yukon River, and build a cabin here. Since then Ruby has been our house for most of the time. Since soapstone was not a ready at hand medium in Ruby, I soon branched out into fossil bone and ivory as well as moose antler.

The fossil bone and ivory, which I’m working with now, are the remains of the Pleistocene ere, 5,000 to 50,000 years ago. The ivory and many bones are from the woolly mammoth, but other bones from the same era are super bison, moose stag and many other types of animals, some of them still living in North American or Asia.

I feel therefore that I am selling a souvenir from prehistory, which I am merely enhancing with my art to make it into a display piece. It is therefore important to me to keep the medium as pure as possible. The coloration of the bones and ivory originates from mud and plant matter in which the remains were deposited before they froze into the ground. Government regulations on state and federal land, plus the awareness by the goldminers about the value of the fossils does not make it very easy to acquire them.”

Text carved into the back of the sculpture:
“This sculpture entirely from mammoth bone and ivory. While also representing various life forms of a period from 10,000 to 50,000 thousand years ago. It makes this work a genuine souvenir from and about the Pleistocene era. The material was collected from the banks of the Yukon River in Alaska’s interior. Design and work by Wolf A. Hebel (signature followed by an artist’s stamp).”

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