Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2005 | People

Figuratively Speaking: Paul Bederson

By Tina Owen

With a long and successful accounting career behind him, Paul Bederson used to joke that the only thing he could draw well was a check. Retirement proved otherwise.

Paul Bederson

Once the novelty of endless golf sessions wore off, Bederson, 68BBA, of West Palm Beach, Florida, searched for another hobby to fill his time and stimulate his mind. When a friend suggested art lessons, he was initially skeptical. “I hadn’t taken an art course since elementary school,” he says.

After enrolling in a sculpture course in 2002, though, Bederson discovered an unsuspected talent, particularly for capturing the human figure in bronze. Since then, he has taken further courses and received acclaim from art critics and teachers who are astonished to discover that a relative newcomer creates work of such expertise and passion. For the fledgling artist, perhaps the greatest thrill came with a compliment on his finely executed work from world-famous sculptor Gualberto Rocchi, who was commissioned to create busts of several American political figures, including former President Richard Nixon.

Bederson’s sculptures are now in private collections and have been exhibited in galleries and museums. Although he started with depictions of wildlife, the artist now specializes in figurative sculptures of “poetic women”—graceful figures with elegantly extended limbs and flowing tresses and garments.

“My passion for figurative sculpture is based on my visual perception that all women are poetically beautiful in form and movement,” he says. “The woman’s figure and her facial expressions are moving poetic instances in time that I capture in my sculpture and present to my audience.”

What started out as a diversion has transformed and enriched Bederson’s life. “My left-side, business brain began closing down and my right-side, artistic brain awakened from a very deep sleep. Art and business are literally worlds apart—and I consider myself lucky to have been in both,” says the former accountant and CEO who now proudly describes himself as “Professional Artist Sculptor—for the rest of my life!”