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THE OUTDOORS ALMANAC | OBSESSIONS

Mr. Kindling

While pruning a ficus tree, an Irvine financial advisor saw the potential in yard trimmings. The rest, as they say, is art history.

March 08, 2005|Mary Forgione

His wife calls him the Wood Whisperer. The tree trimmers he badgers for branches and limbs call him Mr. Stick.

The artist currently known as Stickboy -- the name his kids came up with -- is Jack Lorenz, a 48-year-old financial advisor from Irvine who stockpiles debris to feed his artistic obsession.

Working with a saw, a drill and lots of screws ("I'm a very good customer at Home Depot"), he scavenges ordinary green waste and uses it to create lifelike stick figures.

There's "Stickman," a 12-foot behemoth whose unruly rake of hair poufs out from the back of his head; "Stick Stalker," a graceful puma with convincing padded paws; and "Thoroughbred Stick," a life-size horse with brushy mane and tail that seems to all but leap from its mounted post on a wall. Lorenz currently is working on a great white shark, its mouth agape, that lunges from a blue plywood ocean. The work is called -- what else? -- "Stick Fish."

"Mother Nature gives me the pieces of the puzzle," he says. "I just have to figure out how to put it together."

Lorenz met his twiggy muse about two years ago after trimming a ficus tree in his backyard. "I was thinking, 'I could make something from this,' " he says.

Lorenz, who describes himself as a nature freak and self-taught artist, points out that his creations save some of the millions of tons of municipal green waste that gets dumped into California landfills every year.

So far displays of his work have been limited to his home.

"We haven't been able to park our car in the garage for two years," he quips. "Everything's hanging in there."

Only "Stickman" stands outside, the bark on his limbs peeling a bit due to the winter storms.

But starting Friday two of Lorenz's pieces will hang in the EarthWorksNow 2005 International Biennial at the Hi- Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley ([760] 369-7212). The juried show, whose selections were based on a strongly earthbound theme, runs through April 30.

-- Mary Forgione

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