Darren Jones uses an unconventional tool to create his art.
The Rimbey resident started crafting elaborate and intricate tree sculptures 14 years ago when his family gave him a chain saw as a Father’s Day gift, a present his wife and kids assumed he would use to buck firewood to heat their acreage home.
“I never ran a chain saw until 14 years ago,” laughed Jones, who became a passionate artist when he discovered airbrush painting in 1985 while on hiatus from the oil rigs after he badly broke his foot.
“It’s just a tool,” he continued to say of his latest instrument of choice.
“When it comes to art, it’s the same as a paint brush. You just can’t set it on your legs.”
In the spring of 2009, Jones began working at Pas-Ka-Poo Park on his collection and the 12 completed sculptures will be dedicated to the town and the Rimbey Historical Society Saturday morning.
The ceremony will be part of the inaugural Art in the Park event, at which Jones will be the feature artist and his spruce tree canvases will be the key attraction.
Standing between five and nearly seven metres in height, each sculpture has its own theme.
The tree in which a barber, razor, leather belt and a red swirled pole have been carved into was inspired by a 1932 barber shop, one of the 13 historic buildings relocated to Pas-Ka-Poo Park.
A tree depicting the theme of volunteerism features hands, hearts and seven different smiling faces to represent the seven founding fathers of the park.
The tree dedicated to all things Albertan showcases an owl, cow and bighorn sheep, the Rocky Mountains, wild roses and the provincial flag.
And a cross, poppies and the likeness of a soldier from the First World War have been carved into the tree dedicated to the legion.
The wood carver said he considers the latter his finest sculpture because of the deep emotions he had to incorporate into the piece.
Jones, who still works in the oil field and is away from home some 250 days a year, said it probably took him a total of four months to carve and paint these designs.
He also stressed that he does not use living trees to make his art, and transforms only dead or fallen trees.
Dave Karroll, a Rimbey town councillor and member of the board of directors of the Pas-Ka-Poo Park Historical Society, said Jones’ work is uniquely beautiful and something that you have to see to appreciate.
He added the 12 sculptures in the park will become the focal point of Jones’ entire collection, which has grown to include 30 different pieces.
“I’m just trying to give back because it is a beautiful place to live,” Jones said of his sculpting efforts that are showcased around town.
“As an artist and longtime resident, the importance of giving back to Rimbey is in the forefront.
“I want to beautify the town.”
The tree sculpture dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday at Pas-Ka-Poo Park during Art in the Park, which is a free event.
So far, at least 25 artists from around Central Alberta have signed up to display their pottery, painting, wheat weavings, wood carvings and much more at the first-ever Rimbey artist showcase being held at Pas-Ka-Poo Park Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve got a real cross section of the art community attending,” Karroll said.
“Not huge in numbers but some really good quality stuff.”
Jones will be putting the finishing touches on the blacksmith themed tree during the art festival and he also plans to shape four additional spruce trees at the park into sculptures sometime in the near future.
Jones’ website is www.cabstudio.ca.