I. Saw. Art.

Hello Canada.

A deep existential question for you all:  should Chainsaw Carving be considered Art?

Don’t laugh.  It’s a question that comes frequently to mind in a lot of the more rural towns and byways of the North.  Particularly in Chetwynd, BC where the annual contest results in some pretty remarkable works, which adorn streets and stop traffic.  They stopped me.

Standing bears, monuments to pioneer culture… yes, scores of those.  But also mermaids, samurai, an octopus… a 9-foot tall praying mantis, for godsakes!

This leads me to a series of questions…

Is it like, anything goes?  Or is it just a matter of one upmanship… the point to carve out a niche even more foreign to wood than last year’s winners?  What next – DNA strands?  Jellyfish?  How does one learn?  Are there tricks of the trade, guarded and kept secret from the competition?

And really, spending that much time with a chainsaw… does it not get to you after a while?

In truth I was deeply impressed by most of it, but shouldn’t art really strive to do more than look impressive?  Getting beyond that ‘wow factor’ and conveying something that moves the viewer to see the world differently – or is that just so much artsy blather?  Okay I will admit: a wooden statue of a 9-foot praying mantis is pretty cool, and if I ever saw a real one that big… well that would probably change how I looked at the world, sure.

But there’s an undeniable humor somewhere in there, too – the idea that these pieces, each so detailed and meticulous, are the product of a device otherwise associated with the felling of forests, the provisioning of Texan cannibals, and the occasional dispatching of undead.

That sounds like art to me.  Maybe I’m low-brow or something.




  1. Rob

    I would be impressed with these creations if they were carved with a chisel. Its somehow even more amazing that someone can do this with a chainsaw!

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