Mark Lindquist History





Birth of Project

To Blakely
Team Blakely
Building Bridges
Knowing Blakely
Studying Tree
Show Begins
Digging Deep
Main Event
Tree Character

Super Ax
 Film Perspective
Trust Vision
Last Day

Studio Life
Winding Down
30K View





The Blakely Burl Tree Project: The Story

The Blakely Burl Tree Project:
From The Ground Up

by Terry Martin




We arrive late Monday afternoon at Lindquist Studios in Quincy and as we drive across the fields we are greeted by the exuberant sounds of barking dogs. Mark’s wife Kathy keeps several dogs and the animals are excited by the arrival of so many strange vehicles.

Lindquist Studios, Quincy, Florida.  Shade leaf tobacco barn and brick packing plant on 25 acres, converted into artist's studio and living quarters in 1983. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

Some of them run back and forth excitedly, barking in belled tones as a group welcome. The alpha dog puts on a territorial display, bracing his legs and barking the shorter, sharper challenges that ask us what we think we are doing there.

Roadside view of The Compound, Lindquist Studios, Quincy, Florida.  
Photo: Mark Lindquist

We pull in beside the rambling complex of buildings that once was used for processing shade tobacco. It is an incongruous structure, stuck out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by gently sloping fields that were once productive tobacco farms. The buildings date to the early 1900s, but resemble something much older, like an urban 19th century factory. Mark has subdivided the huge spaces and added outbuildings to create a rambling rabbit warren containing their home, three separate galleries, photography studios, computer rooms, and workshops of every size and type imaginable.

The tobacco barn, recently resided.  Built in the early 1900's during the shade leaf tobacco era.  Shade leaf tobacco was grown for cigar wrappers. The barn is the last of 24 orignal barns on the adjacent properties. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

A large gallery at the entrance is filled with Mark’s photographs, paintings, and small sculptures, another with his large-scale sculptures.

Mark Lindquist in his front gallery, Lindquist Studios, Quincy, Florida.  
Photo: John McFadden

Two upper levels are reached by a clanking one-hundred-year-old industrial elevator, and they contain what seems to be acres of precious wood stored for future use. There are also dozens of partly finished sculptures gathering dust until Mark is ready to complete them. Everywhere is storage, storage and more storage.

Lindquist in his second floor sculpture gallery above the main studios. 
Photo: Greg Andracke

One workshop is filled with metal and wood lathes, surrounded by stacks of drawers filled with every accessory imaginable.

The front studio, machine shop.  Lindquist Studios, Quincy, Florida. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

The machine lathe and tool room with Bridgeport milling machine and Birmingham lathe.  
Photo: Mark Lindquist

Another space contains Mark’s futuristic robotic setups that enable him to work enormous pieces of wood with little physical effort. It is a tool junkie’s paradise, the result of two lifetimes’ accumulation by both Mel and Mark, a remarkable collection of functioning machinery and things that “might be useful one day.”

Lindquist's back studio with robotics and controls.  Mark Lindquist has been designing and building his robotic equipment and this main studio since 1985. 
Photo: Mark Lindquist

It's time for dinner so we drive into town to eat at the West End Grille where the steaks are thick and the sauces are hot. As we settle in with the menus, I sigh and, not for the first time, look down at my waistline. This has not only been a life-changing experience, but a body-changing time as well. But before we can order, we hear a shout from across the room and look up to see Steve Cross weaving his way through the tables to us! He has followed us down only a few hours after we left and knew we would be eating here. Of course everybody laughs and welcomes him, but we have to ask why he is here. He grins broadly and says, “I might have a surprise for you.” He won’t tell us any more and so we happily share dinner with our unexpected and most welcome guest.

When dinner is over Steve says, “It’s been real good seeing y’all again, but before I go home I’ve got something for you in my truck.” We follow him across the car park and he whips a tarpaulin aside to reveal a large, freshly cut piece of black persimmon! He can barely contain his glee when he sees the looks on our faces. “I thought y’all might like to try a piece,” he says. It’s impossible not to feel deeply moved by this gentle man. This time it is our turn to watch sadly as Steve returns home to complete his round trip of five hours just to make us happy with a piece of wood.  On the way home John talks about Steve: “You know,” he says, “as we grow we learn to protect ourselves by not telling people what we are actually thinking, but I don’t think Steve ever learned that. He is such a genuinely kind person and so generous. He’s one of the truest southern characters that I’ve ever met. I just can’t think of the Project without him.”

When we arrive back at Lindquist Studios, we sit on the porch with cold beers in our hands, telling Kathy about what we have been doing. It makes me think about how much we have been surrounded by men and I start wishing I could share this moment with my wife Yuriko. Somebody says, “why don’t you call her?”, so I take out my laptop and soon we are all gathered around, listening over the Internet to her distant voice from Brisbane, 9000 miles away on the other side of the world. She is surprised and delighted to hear from us all, and laughs at our stories. Later I think about how this is a foretaste of the international nature of the Rices' and Mark’s dream. If the dream comes true, threads of creativity will link artists all over the world with the town of Blakely. I can’t help thinking of a large map in the Blakely Burl Tree Museum with lines drawn to show where the wood traveled to and how it came back to south Georgia.

Introduction | The Story | The Tree | The Artwork | Team | NewsFilm | Sawmill | Location | Rice Foundation