Chainsaw totems

The sound of the artist at work sounds like the set of the Red Green Show.

The sound of the artist at work sounds like the set of the Red Green Show.

Brandishing two small chainsaws, oilfield worker Darren Jones, 43, is busily carving 16 sculptures from a line of spruce trees along the eastern boundary of Pas Ka Poo Park in Rimbey.

It’s not work, it’s a challenge, said Jones. He is donating his time, with the Rimbey Historical Society covering the costs of sharpening, oil and gas for his saws, and the wood stain and oil to finish the carvings.

“They had me in mind before they started,” he said.

Park administrator Cheryl Scheie said she and the board were growing concerned for public safety because the densely-packed row of spruce trees, planted 45 years ago when the park was first opened, were starting to create a hazard. Heavy limbs would fall during high winds and there was fear that someone would be injured.

Scheie and the board were familiar with Jones’s work, including pieces in the 10-acre park and on both private and public land elsewhere in town.

Instead of cutting the trees back to little stumps, they thought it would be neat to have Jones carve the trunks into tall statues and create a new attraction.

Jones said some people might mistakenly call them totem poles.

“Totem poles are native and it’s religions. I’m not native and I’m not religious in their religion, so they’re tree sculptures.”

The historical society has assigned a theme for each tree. The first is dedicated to all the volunteers who have helped build Rimbey over the past 107 years.

Another will be dedicated to explorer Anthony Henday, whose name has a permanent link with the town, the nearby Blindman River and the park itself. (The story goes that Henday had gone snowblind one winter. Members of the Cree Nation who had been helping him started calling the area Pas Ka Poo — valley of the blind man.)

Self taught, Jones, 43, said he had started out as a painter, using an airbrush as his favourite medium.

“I broke my foot on the oil rigs in ’85 and I took up painting.”

About 12 years ago, his wife Patricia and their children bought him a chainsaw. Their idea was that he would use it to buck up firewood to heat their rural home.

Jones had other ideas.

He continued buying his firewood already split, dedicating the saw to creating sculptures.

His first work — a portrait of the Rimbey Traveller — was given to Pas Ka Poo Park, where it is still on display.

For Jones, sculpting was a natural progression from two-dimensional art and something he could take with him on jobs.

“I’m a directional driller in the oilpatch, so when I’m location, depending on where I’m at, I usually sculpt also. I take my chainsaw with me.”

“(Sculpting) is a manipulation between light and dark. I can see inside a sphere and I’m able to pick what must come off for it to come out.”

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

City of Red Deer to explore better — but not costlier — ways of residential snow plowing

Too many public complaints came in last winter, says city councillor

Alberta government won’t seek meeting with teen enviro-activist Greta Thunberg

EDMONTON — The Alberta government won’t seek out a meeting with teen… Continue reading

Roughly 13,000 without power days after snowstorm pummels Manitoba

WINNIPEG — The farm that has been in Jamal Abas’ family for… Continue reading

Red Deer city council supports proposed changes to police funding model

But more factors should be considered to achieve ‘equitable funding strategy’

Trudeau, Singh jockey for ‘progressive’ votes while Scheer fights in Quebec

OTTAWA — As Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and New Democrat opponent Jagmeet… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Alberta government won’t seek meeting with teen enviro-activist Greta Thunberg

EDMONTON — The Alberta government won’t seek out a meeting with teen… Continue reading

Michael Frolik gets goal in 800th NHL game, Flames down Flyers

Flames 3 Flyers 1 CALGARY — Michael Frolik scored in his 800th… Continue reading

Wild-card Nationals head to World Series with sweep of Cards

Nationals 7 Cardinals 4 (Washington wins series 4-0) WASHINGTON — It was… Continue reading

Roughly 13,000 without power days after snowstorm pummels Manitoba

WINNIPEG — The farm that has been in Jamal Abas’ family for… Continue reading

Marner has three points to help lift Maple Leafs over Wild

Maple Leafs 4 Wild 2 TORONTO — Mitch Marner had a goal… Continue reading

Trudeau, Singh jockey for ‘progressive’ votes while Scheer fights in Quebec

OTTAWA — As Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and New Democrat opponent Jagmeet… Continue reading

Canada beats U.S., ends 34-year, 17-game winless streak

Canada 2 United States 0 TORONTO — After years of watching from… Continue reading

Most Read