Carving Out A Life
....... by Bill Hudson
Late September, my wife and I did something for the first time. We went away for two weeks alone, leaving our large family behind. Our destination … Seal Rock, Oregon.
Seal Rock is a small community (population = 1,066) on the coast midway between Waldport and Newport. We were quietly isolated among pine trees just a hundred yards from the vast, near empty beach in a home we had stayed in the previous year. Thank you, Barb and Rich, for our second home exchange.
Only 8 miles north of Seal Rock is Newport, Oregon, my favorite west coast town. The harbor is always busy, constantly changing with commercial fishing boats going out to sea or bringing in their catch. It claims the highest catch of Dungeness crabs anywhere. Thousands of pots now sit, neatly stacked, waiting for the start of this year’s season from Dec 1st to August 15th. Commercially, only male crabs with a minimum shell length of 6¼ inches can be taken. This practice has kept the fishery profitably sustainable.
For the past 20 years, I’ve had two goals visiting Oregon: to recreationally catch crabs from 3-man rental skiffs in either Waldport or Newport, and to get hundreds of reference photographs for future paintings. But last year we discovered Brian McEneny, an exceptional artist in Seal Rock. We purchased a piece of Brian’s work and looked forward to visiting his gallery again this year.
Brian is an extremely talented woodcarver who converts stumps, logs, and driftwood into incredible, often complex, works of art. Brian’s approach requires far more imagination and creativity than I have. Painters typically begin with a composition in mind and have many options regarding the size, style, and presentation. But Brian often begins with just an open mind and a random shaped stump. With that beginning, he studies the stump, imagines possibilities, awaits inspiration, and begins rough chainsaw carving, hopeful his vision can be accommodated by the integrity of the wood. At least Michelangelo began with a uniform block of marble from which he simply “chipped away the stone that didn’t look like David.” Brian’s work begins with more limitations.