Thursday, February 18, 2010
After the disappointing ice sculpture fiasco, I shot some of the morning activity at Fish Creek's Winter Festival. Having sufficiently chilled myself to the bone after spending nearly three hours on the town's frozen harbor photographing kite fliers, ice bowlers, snow golfers and toilet seat tossers, I returned to a pre-determined rendezvous point to meet my wife.
I discovered that a guy with a chainsaw had set himself up in front of our rendezvous point and was busily, loudly and smokily carving away on a stump of wood. The guy was Dave Bartels, a chainsaw artist from Clintonville, Wisconsin who specializes in whimsical woodland creatures. I wasn't sure if Dave came in specially for the Winter Festival or if he regularly does Saturday demonstration carvings at the local retailer that carries his work. No matter. Watching Dave at work more than made up for the lack of quality ice sculptures in town that day.
Dave seemed to know exactly what he wanted to accomplish with the wood, methodically and purposefully circling the stump, roughly forming the animal cut by cut, wood chips and blue smoke billowing all the while. More precise and fine cuts followed. Finishing touches were applied with a blow torch to darken areas of the wood.
While I was photographing Dave from the street and from standing atop a nearby park bench to clear the protective mesh fence that surrounded his work area, several of his sculptures departed the scene while money simultaneously flowed into Dave's pocket.
Good work if you can get it.