I have always thought of chainsaw sculpture as a rather crude form of artistic expression, but my attitude toward this most demanding creative endeavour changed this past winter when I tripped across Kevin Lewis and Angela Kroeker hunkered down in their booth at a Christmas craft fair. Their work was so captivating, in fact, that we recently journeyed to their magical rainforest garden nestled along the edge of the Browns River in the Comox Valley to see more of their creations.
Kevin and Angela have created a delightful one-acre outdoor gallery to display their art, which ranges from whimsical to functional. They have the best smelling workshop imaginable, redolent with the fragrances of red and yellow cedar, maple and the many other varieties of reclaimed wood that they utilize in their artistic endeavours. The workshop itself evokes thoughts of something out of a mystical fairy tale – a Hobbit house, perhaps, or the residence of some supernatural being. But what goes on in there is magic in itself – pieces of wood, burls, driftwood are transformed into intricately detailed, exquisitely lovely works designed to adorn homes and gardens. The artistic eye and creative talent of both Kevin and Angela are evident in every piece.
We spent about an hour touring the workshop and outdoor gallery, yakking all the way with Kevin and Angela, who so clearly love what they do. Kevin was given his first chain saw at the age of 11, and after deciding in 1996 that he didn’t want to die in the woods working as a faller he turned to more creative endeavours. Angela has been working in the field since 2009.
A wander through the gallery turns up delight in every direction. Kevin’s first creation, a large, sinister gargoyle, lurks among the more recent works. For me that piece was more reminiscent of what I had always perceived chain saw art to be – it is rough and dark – a rudimentary tip of the hat to the world of sculpture. All of the other pieces, however, reveal a more refined eye and a dedication to producing beautifully-finished works that will add to the beauty and allure of any home or garden. You can find anything from dragons to frogs to tree spirit faces scattered along the tidy graveled pathways, in sizes large and small. Kevin and Angela also undertake commission work such as bed headboards and dining tables for inside the home.
Truly, an excursion through the outdoor gallery at Westcoast Chain Saw Artists is a magical mystery tour. Next time you are in the Comox Valley set aside a little extra time to drop in and enjoy this most unique spot.
Further information can be found at the website:
The gallery is located at 4010 Forbidden Plateau Road, Courtenay
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.6931716 Long. -125.0682655
N 49 41.590 W 125 04.096