EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 14, 2013

Chainsaw artist creates bear statue from stump

Lofty pine stump transformed into roadside art

By Doug Ireland

---- — KINGSTON — Paul Markham has a new yard ornament that’s definitely a cut above the rest.

So many people are stopping by to take a look, he had to put out orange cones to prevent an accident.

The newest addition at his home at 44 Newton Junction Road is a 12-foot statue of a bear on a rock, carved from a pine tree that used to stand nearly 100 feet tall.

When utility workers were trimming tall pines in his neighborhood to prevent power outages, they decided to cut the huge tree at the home where Markham and his wife, Joanna, both 51, have lived since 1990.

A worker was sawing the tree from the bucket of a Unitil truck.

Paul Markham wasn’t home, but his wife called him when huge chunks of the tree began falling to the ground. Only about 15 feet of the tree was still standing.

“I said, ‘Go out right now and tell them not to cut the rest of it,’” he said.

Markham told Joanna he wanted the rest to be carved into a statue. She ran out and stopped the worker from felling the rest of huge tree — approximately 10 feet in circumference.

“The guy in the bucket truck said, ‘Oh, that would be really cool,’” Markham said

Markham did some research and called the person he thought would be best for the job.

Josh Landry, 27, of North Anson, Maine, is recognized as one of the best woodcarvers in the country, Markham said. He’s been carving statues, furniture and signs since he was 16.

Landry doesn’t use any special woodcarving tools, he uses a roaring chainsaw. He began work on the statue at noon Thursday and expected to finish carving it Saturday.

He planned to sand it and stain it black before completing the approximately 25-hour project yesterday.

Landry said he travels the country making carvings, turning out about 200 a year — most much smaller than the 8-foot-bear standing on a 4-foot rock, accompanied by a raccoon. He also participates in carving competitions, finishing second in a recent international contest in Pennsylvania.

Markham declined to say how much the carving cost him.

“It’s not cheap, but I consider it great value,” he said.