Saturday, November 20, 2010

Carving Out A Niche

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” 


Jim Haggart is someone I’ve passed for years while driving down Route 94, marveling at his talent, but never really getting to know who he was or why he does what he does.  Finally, my curiosity got the best of me.  Who is this person who can create something so beautiful from something so ordinary?

Within moments of my first meeting with him, he is transforming a gnarled log of wood into an intricate and amazingly realistic sculpture of a bear.  Using his chainsaw like a paintbrush, he cuts with precision, effortlessly exposing each minute detail of the bear’s form.

Though artistically inclined as a child, he’d never sculpted or even picked up a chainsaw before carving his first creation.  However, after spying a chainsaw in his father’s yard, he carved out a comical face in a tree stump and from that moment he was hooked.  When asked if he formally studied art, he replied that he took one art class in college, got a D and dropped it.  Not one to be discouraged, he soon found his calling - Jim’s Chainsaw Creations.

He’s been creating his spectacular chainsaw sculptures for fifteen years now, the last thirteen of those years as a full time profession, sculpting on average 450 of them every year.  Each of these wooden sculptures takes between one and twenty-four hours to create, and they range in price from $100 to $500.  His best seller, the bears….his personal favorite, the eagles.  So far, business has been generated exclusively by word-of-mouth and his clients include both locals and tourists, including Paul Teutul, Sr. of Orange County Chopper fame.

His “gallery” is currently an outdoor space at Penning’s Farm Market on Route 94 in Warwick, where one can admire his work, purchase a piece on-site and watch the artist at his craft.  He’s there from March through December, every Fri and Sat 10AM – 5PM and Sun 10AM – 3PM, weather permitting.  His dedication is admirable – in his words, “If its above 20 degrees, I’m here.” 

Just keep your distance when he’s got the chainsaw cranked up, because I’m still brushing the sawdust out of my hair.

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