Carvers, other artists draw eager crowd from various spots | CraigDailyPress.com

Carvers, other artists draw eager crowd from various spots

Galleria at the Park makes debut at Whittle the Wood

Michael Neary

The carvers of the 17th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous take a break Thursday for a group photo. Now midway through their entries in the yearly festival, the 11 competitors who have come from across the country will continue their work Friday and Saturday.

— Two years ago, Iles Winder was back in town for his 50th reunion at Moffat County High School, and he noticed wooden sculptures that had been carved at past Whittle the Wood Rendezvous gatherings. Winder grew up in Craig, but he'd left in 1964, long before the Whittle the Wood tradition had begun.

So Winder, who lives in Tucson, Arizona,, drove to Craig with his fiancée to see the carving in action. He brought a camera.

"I guarantee that when I get these pictures back to Tucson, you'll have a whole bunch of people here next year," he said. "Tell them to build some more hotels."

Jada Czulewicz, Winder's fiancée, was also breath-taken by the work she was watching.

"They're amazing," she said of the carvers, "to get the detail using such big instruments. It's not like they're using chisels."

Czulewicz plans to post the photos on Facebook.

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As carvers worked on a windy, sun-soaked Thursday morning, a smattering of people trekked about Loudy-Simpson Park. Some, like Czulewicz and Winder, had heard about the carving and were coming to see it in progress. Others, like Amanda Broz, had arrived with one of the carvers.

"I like it because it seems like there's a lot of camaraderie between the carvers," said Broz, wife of carver Matt Ounsworth, from Fort Collins. "Matt learned a lot of stuff last year from the other carvers. Especially in the morning, they chitchat with each other, and they'll look at each other's stuff. It seems really friendly — not an angry competition."

Some children were also at the park. Hava Moshman, 11, was in from Boulder with her father, Bongo Love, who's one of the carvers. Hava was spraying some fresh carvings with a finish before she and two other children — Taylor and Weston Vogt — went to play on a swing set. Taylor and Weston are the children of Chad Stratton, also a carver, from Utah.

"I like to see how the carvings turn out," said Taylor, 10.

"And you get to see other people's work, and what their styles are," added Hava.

Weston, 7, was also enjoying the day.

"I like to watch all the carvers," he said, "and I like to play on the playground."

Later, during the afternoon, Galleria at the Park opened up in a cool, shady tent with the work of nearly 15 artists on display. It's the first time the Galleria has set up at Whittle the Wood.

"This is a new venture for us," said Roberta Hawks, who, along with Janele Husband and Amy Andrews, is coordinating the Galleria. Hawks said she was grateful for Whittle the Wood's hospitality, and she said the display resembled pop-up galleries the Galleria has created for the past two years or so.

Hawks noted a range of art pieces in the Galleria, including photography, ceramics, woodcarving, found-object sculpture, mosaics, glass and a cluster of other forms.

Melanie Kilpatrick, one of the artists on hand Thursday, also noted the sprawling selection of artworks in the Galleria. She said it was her first showing, or a "trial run" for her body of found-object sculptures.

"It's a great setting to do that in because it's a nice mix of mediums and artists, and I just kind of wanted to get in on that," she said.

Kilpatrick's work included a melding of forks, tin cans, cords and other ordinary objects. She said she began doing her artwork about three years ago when she and her then 6-year-old daughter bought an old telephone at a thrift store.

"We deconstructed it," she said. "We had an idea that we were going to take something apart and build something anew with it."

People visiting the Galleria can purchase art, and they can spend a dollar to vote on what they think is the best work. Or they can just wander and look, listening to the soft buzz of chainsaws in the distance that whisper a tale of other pieces of art under careful, elegant construction.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.