You might remember seeing a chainsaw sculpture of Sasquatch at Enumclaw’s sidewalk sale last summer. It’s not that the work exhibits any special skill or innovative techniques, but rather it makes an impression simply because it’s so big – maybe 10 feet tall.
Yet I wouldn’t underestimate just how talented the artists are. Indeed, Mark Herrington and his son, Colby, are extremely talented and as good or better than any other chainsaw sculptor I’ve run across, and there have been many of them. (Chainsaw sculptors are a dime a dozen.) Mark and Colby are pushing the boundaries of their craft far beyond the usual limits.
Mark is a 61-year-old, friendly, good-looking and humorous fellow who started cutting sculptures 10 years ago and has been quite successful. I mean, the guy makes a living off his work and there aren’t many artists who can say that. Colby is 21 and recently won second-place honors at a chainsaw competition with sculptors from all over the world; i.e., Germany, Canada, Mexico, etc.
So, the other afternoon Mark, Colby and I sat down with a couple of beers at Elk Head Brewery. That’s an excellent place to see their sculptures. It’s no exaggeration to say the Elk Head isn’t so much a bar – though on second thought, that’s certainly what it is – but instead is a permanent exhibit and collection of their work; so to speak, the bar has become their personal gallery. The place wouldn’t have any chairs, benches or other furnishings or any of its comfortable and appealing, artistic decor without Mark’s work.
When I walked into the Elk Head several months ago, I saw at a distance what I thought was a stuffed elk, mounted in one corner. But alas, upon closer inspection I discovered it was a sculpture. I mean, the thing looks that real.
There are some 5- or 6-foot benches with intricately carved backs and smoothly shellacked surfaces that are positively gorgeous and, if I had enough room, I’d surely park one in my living room or kitchen. But perhaps I was most moved by a 3- or 4-foot swordfish that was painted with viridian green, if you’re familiar with an artist’s palette, and then covered with a smooth, high-gloss polyurethane.
Aside from the large works, like benches and elk, there are many smaller owls, eagles, fish and sharks scattered about the Elk Head. These works cost about $20, while the awesome swordfish goes for $3,000.
“Sooner or later,” Mark explained, “I sell just about anything and everything.”
I doubted that. I couldn’t imagine anyone buying the huge Sasquatch because it wouldn’t fit in anyone’s home unless you have 10-foot ceilings and I don’t think most people would set such a thing in their front yard or, for that matter, in their back yard. Well, guess what, friends? Mark sold the damned thing to Big Foot Java (of course!) and it will permanently stand in front of the espresso shop at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.
Mark is a very rare commodity: an artist with business sense!