Peace comes to Southwest Edmonds

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Artist Tomas Vrba takes down the scaffolding after a weekend of work creating the new Edmonds peace sign. (Photo by Doreen Hocraffer)
Artist Tomas Vrba takes down the scaffolding after a weekend of work creating the new Edmonds peace sign. (Photo by Doreen Hocraffer)

There’s a new attraction in Edmonds that’s drawing big crowds to the neighborhood south of Edmonds Way and east of Woodway: a larger-than-life chainsaw sculpture peace sign.

It all started with an aging Douglas Fir that had grown into the overhead power lines at the corner of 238th Street Southwest and 102nd Place West. When line clearance crews showed up to take the tree down, adjacent property owners Evan and Nancy Porrelli saw their chance to fulfill a long-held dream to commission an original piece…uh, peace…of chainsaw art. The crews left a 10- to 12- foot stump, and the Porrellis started searching for a chainsaw artist.

“They looked at several artists,” said Everett-based Tomas Vrba, who was chosen to do the job. “They liked my work and ultimately asked me to create the sculpture.”

Vrba, who holds a Masters degrees in fine arts restoration, was trained in Europe. “Initially I worked on restoring alters, statuary, churches, and other buildings and artifacts dating back to the 17th century,” he said.

After coming to the United States seven years ago, Vrba became interested in chainsaw art. “There’s fewer opportunities for restoration work in this area because things just aren’t that old,” he said. “But Washington and Oregon are the epicenter of chainsaw art, and to me the chainsaw is just another creative tool.”

Vrba perfected his skill with this new technique, and his art had received national recognition. “I still work in a wide range of media,” he said. “Adding chainsaw art to what I do has allowed me to expand into new areas.” Vrba now competes in timed chainsaw carving events as well as maintaining a full-time studio for this and his other art. Learn more here.

“I consulted with the Porrellis, and we looked at several alternative designs,” Vrba said. “They really wanted a peace sign, and the forked tree stump made it a natural for this project. I had to skew the anatomy of the hand just a little to accommodate the shape of the trunk, but the final composition looks very natural.”

Vrba completed the sculpture in two days over the July 13-14 weekend. Vrba is based in Everett and holds advanced degrees in fine art and art restoration. (Photo by Doreen Hocraffer)
Vrba completed the sculpture in two days over the July 13-14 weekend. Vrba is based in Everett and holds advanced degrees in fine art and art restoration. (Photo by Doreen Hocraffer)

Vrba began work on Saturday, July 13, and was finished the next night. “I would have finished faster if it hadn’t been for all the interruptions from passersby,” he said.

The sculpture has become an overnight neighborhood sensation.

Pastor Phil Assink is pleased to have a peace sign across from his church. "We do stand for the same thing," he said.
Pastor Phil Assink is pleased to have a peace sign across from his church. “We do stand for the same thing,” he said. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Pastor Phil Assink heads up Faith Community Church, located just across the street from the sculpture. His church faces the street, and he’s never seen anything like it. “It’s been nonstop for two weeks,” he said. “Everyone has been coming through…cars, kids on bikes, strollers, seniors, families. I don’t think there’s a utility worker in this quadrant of the city that hasn’t had their photo taken by this sculpture.”

“I just feel so good about having a peace sign across from the church,” Assink added. “Because after all, we do stand for the same thing.”

— By Larry Vogel

 

 

 

 

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