Contest keeps artists chained to their work

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2007



If the thought of chain saw competitions conjures up images of flying wood chips and tall trees crashing down onto the forest floor, you’re partly right. Flying wood chips, yes. But there’s a whole lot more that can be done with a chain saw than cut down a tree.

Just ask the residents of Seldovia, where creations from the 2006 Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Contest, sponsored by the Seldovia Chamber of Commerce, add a decorative touch to the community. For instance, there’s the wooden angel keeping watch at the fuel station. And the mermaid at the Tidepool Cafe.

Last year’s contest was such a hit that the chamber is sponsoring another one for Memorial Day weekend, with artists working at their craft all weekend. Scattered throughout the weekend are 60-minute “quick carves.” These items will be auctioned at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The event is named after local carvers Toby and Elaine Craft, according to Jenny Chissus, one of the event organizers.

“We’re always looking for neat opportunities for Seldovia, so here was an opportunity to have local art showcased, bring artists into town and have a great show,” Chissus said.

In 2006, seven professional carvers were juried into the competition. Between them, they toted approximately 40 chain saws of varying sizes to Seldovia for the event. Each carver also was allowed one assistant.

“People thought chain-saw carving might be crude and simple, but it was incredible,” Chissus said. “We were all sitting there going, ‘I can’t believe this.’ At least five of the seven competitors will be participating this year, in addition to two new carvers.”

Wood comes from the area. And it stays there, too, since all the carvings, except the “quick carves,” are placed around town.

“The community gets to enjoy them, the artist gets exposure and people get to see artwork when they come through town,” Chissus said.

Artists must submit an application to the event’s organizing committee. If accepted, out-of-town artists are responsible for getting themselves to Homer. After that, they’re guests of the Seldovia chamber.

“We bring them (across Kachemak Bay) on a private boat, house them, feed them and take care of them for the whole weekend they’re here,” Chissus said. “It’s kind of a working vacation.”

The schedule for the M/V Tustumena, a ferry with the Alaska Marine Highway System, makes it possible to travel from Homer to Seldovia and back Sunday.

For more information about Seldovia, visit the Web at

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