Here's what the artist (Pete) had to say in response to my inquiry:
I started doing the crayon carvings while I was a grad student in Chicago. There's a self-taught artist there- David Philpot- who's been carving these intricate, regal-looking staffs out of this weed/tree- Stinkweed, I think it's called- that crops up in all the vacant lots around the city. I just thought the transformative power of that carving-gesture was really amazing and inspiring. So, as a flailing student, looking for a way to avoid painting, carving cheap craft supplies sort of seemed like the natural material raw material for me to start with...
Pete's work has been shown in Chicago and Los Angeles. For more information, please don't hesitate to find the artist at http://www.petegoldlust.com.