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Monday, September 9, 2013

Beard Art

The ever-popular coil spring beard.

Salvador Dali, weird for his day,
but a quite modest effort by today's
Having playfully reported on face painting yesterday (the item directly below), I thought I might playfully report on the only exclusively male, bastion of art yet remaining--the fine art of beard growing and grooming. When we hear the word art and beard in the same sentence only one name, only one face comes to mind, that of Salvador Dali. That's strange, because the man never grew a beard in his life beyond five o'clock (a.m. and p.m.) shadows, that is. However his delicate, handlebar moustache he made world famous in at least a half-dozen of stylized manifestations (left). Sometimes it curled, sometimes it was straight (out or up). Moreover, he seems to have thoroughly enjoyed it, mugging for hundreds of photos featuring various playful mustachioed variations. However, Dali's delightful doings would be considered mild by today's standards of artistic excellence in this regard.

The 2011 World Competition winner,
the Snowshoe Beard.
There are even beard growing competitions. Although such competitions usually offer a prize for sheer quantity, most go primarily for creativity, the hallmark of all art, which should put to rest any question anyone might have as to whether such follicle frivolity is, in fact, an art form. I feel quite competent in writing about this type of art in that I've had a beard for some thirty-six years. My son (31) has never seen me without one. And, I must confess, I've dabbled in the art of the handlebar moustache too. Let me tell you, such art, if not difficult to conceive, is quite a burden to maintain, especially during the summer months where high humidity is a problem. Mine (back in the 1970s), combined "mutton chop" sideburns with my curled moustache before I finally gave in to a full beard a year or so later. I love being able to shave with just a pair of scissors once or twice a week.
Beard art is simply a rather hairy form of sculpture, here with a bicycling theme.
Like most art forms, the facial follicle creations often involve themes. A perennial favorite at beard completions is Elmar Weisser (above) who has pursued such themes a bicycling, London's Tower Bridge, windmills, and various forms of wildlife, which begs the question, who is the real artist, he who sports the beard or he who "does his hair" (not always one and the same)? The Biennial World Beard and Moustache Competition in 1911 was held in Trondhjem, Norway. This year's contest moves to Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany starting November 2nd. There are about sixteen different categories covering moustaches, partial beards, full beards. So men, put away the Gillettes and the shaving cream, buy a case of mouse, or handlebar wax, and start growing those follicles. You too could become a living easel for a hirsute work of sculptural art.

Stuart Wilf, first place in the
partial beard freestyle category.
Showmanship counts for a lot with
any type of art.

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