Travelling through the Black Hills I saw some amazing sights. One of the amazing sights though was man made. It was the chainsaw art at several locations, Deadwood, Hill City, Keystone and Wall. Here, true artists carve life and beauty back into dead trees.
Bears, eagles and other animals feature prominently in their designs. The whimsical make appearances to in the shape of gigantic yetis.
Each three dimensional piece is unique, as are the natural materials used to carve from. Each piece is treated after carving, to prolong its life.
In the Wall location, a 40 foot tall giant jackalope can be entered and stairs spiral their way up inside. 71 wood spirits have been carved inside. Can you find all 71? What exactly is a jackalope though? This creature does not exist in the real world. It is half jack rabbit and half antelope.
Brothers Jarrett and Jordan Dahl are the owners of Dahl's Chain Saw Art and their building took just 21 days to construct. The exterior is made of barked logs, giving it a fur like appearance. The entry door is amazing!
Inside the smell of freshly carved wood is delightful, and made of ponderosa pine, cedar, oak and many other types of wood. Over 3,000 pieces went into the construction. Climbing up the interior stairs and being amazed at the carvings of not just those wood spirits, but animals, mythical creatures and South Dakota landmarks. Then you reach a balcony where you can gaze out at not much, just a higher view of the town of Wall and the street below. But it isn't the destination that was important in this climb, but the picturesque internal journey. I couldn't find all 71 reported wood spirits, some of them are elusive!
Outdoors, the word Believe is carved in wood under the creatures hands. Does that mean to believe in unexplained creatures, or believe in yourself? I think it would be a different interpretation for each person seeing it. That is what art is about. We can all see the same thing but get a different expectation and experience from it.
I had the pleasure of speaking to chainsaw artist Shane onsite at Wall. Shane hails from California and is here for a few weeks, sharing his talents. He was very informative and described how he saw each piece before he carved it.
Yet, at times he said the wood just knew what it wanted to become, and he was just there to facilitate that. He had been carving some amazing eagles just that day.
Being able to watch the sculptures being skillfully carved is intriguing. The only sad thing is that none of these sculptures would fit in my travelling suitcase. Shane said they could organise delivery to people's homes though. Very tempting! For now, I will just have to enjoy visiting Dahls art and enjoying the pieces here.
When in the area, I also recommend visiting:
Wall Drug in the nearby town of Wall