The Blakely Burl Tree Project: The
The Blakely Burl Tree Project:
From The Ground Up
by Terry Martin
Towards the end of the day Mark and Gary agree
that they have taken the sculpture to the point where it needs to be bagged up,
crated, and shipped to Gary’s studio in California. There he will oversee the
process of drying the wood before the final carving. It is amazing to think that
the water still in the wood is from the Big Ditch and it will be transported
across the country to be dried out in California. A huge lump of wood has been
reduced to something easily lifted by one person and when Gary is finished with
it, the vessel will only weigh around thirty pounds. That piece will take pride
of place in the museum as the very first ever made from the BBT.
The Blakely Burl Tree Sculpture in roughed out state, ready for shipment to
Soquel, CA, to Gary Steven's studio for finishing.
The day winds down in an anti-climactic process of sweeping shavings, putting
away tools, checking and double checking that all has been done. A final beer in
the long twilight on the porch and we talk through the remarkable events of the
last two weeks. There are lots of laughs and the beer tastes better for it.
Winding down, Terry Martin sweeps up while Mark Lindquist photographs.
That night we drive to the West End Grille again for a final meal of fried okra,
blackened fish and enormous shrimp, all washed down with more cold beer. Life is
good. Not for the first time I sit back and soak up the uniquely American energy
that flows around me. Sport constantly runs on the big screens and once more I
shake my head at the stop-start nature of the game they call football where
hardly anybody ever kicks a ball. I comment on this, but nobody is impressed. In
this enormous and complex land, where even the World Series involves only one
country, other cultures seem very far away.
(Left to right) John McFadden, Terry Martin, Mark Lindquist, Kathy Lindquist
at West End Grille, Quincy Florida.
Photo: Gary Stevens
I can see through into the kitchen where the staff are throwing huge steaks on
the grill and filling enormous salad bowls with enough vegetation to feed a
horse, all the time laughing and joking loudly. The restaurant is filled with
that American brand of can-do energy, a kind of “watch-me” professionalism where
skills are on show and pride at a job well done is openly celebrated. I can’t
help thinking that is exactly how the Burl Tree team has gone about their work.
It’s very different to the more understated way of working where I come from and
I marvel both at how familiar American life seems to me, yet how foreign I feel
Terry Martin, at Lindquist Studios, reflects on his experiences in America.
Photo: John McFadden