Friday, February 09, 2007

Art In The Bay

By BENNIE SHALLBETTER
Feb 9, 2007, 17:22

In addition to today's usual Second Saturday fare will be work by Indiana wood carver Dayle K. Lewis and Louisiana carver Amy Canada. The duo will be set up on the corner of Second St. and Main St. in Bay St. Louis all day.
Carvings are made from local, storm damaged wood, mainly pine, pecan and live oak, said Lewis. The pair, along with Lewis' wife Gayle have been working for several days to create wood statues ranging from alligators, to bears, to angels, to fleur de lis. They will also be working at the site on Saturday. You can bring your own wood.
Dayle Lewis, above, and Amy Canada, below, carve sculptures out of trees felled during Hurricane Katrina as part of the KatRita Wood Project. The artists will in Old Town today for Second Saturday.
Canada said she hopes to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Leetown Fire Department towards their building fund. Lewis joined in because, he said, he had planned to come down as a volunteer anyway and the chance to help and do what he loves worked out well. This is his second trip to the area.
The idea for using the felled Katrina wood for a carving project came about as a result of the need Canada said she felt to stop the enormous waste of wood after the storm. She first looked into milling the wood for lumber but came to dead ends, she said.
A website gave her the idea to recruit carvers. She posted a message and within five minutes answers came in by email and by phone. People were interested.
Since then Canada has organized several 'carve-ins."
With a chain saw, blow torch, grinder, sander, stains and a little paint Lewis, and Canada, can create just about anything your heart desires.
This week the group gathered behind the old Ruth's Cakery on Court St. to work for three days before setting up shop today. Prices set on pieces are suggested donations that will cover costs, Canada said.
Using his art to help others is nothing new to Lewis. He donates several thousand dollars worth of hand carved sculptures for fundraising events each year. Right now he is involved in a project to raise funds for a soup kitchen in Richmond. To do so he is creating a series of angels.
When he is not working at his home on 4 acres in Richmond, Indiana Lewis travels around the country to various festivals to create and sell his wares. He also works on commission orders, both at his home and the home of his clients. As he puts it, "I make house calls."
"The thing I like the most is to go in a back yard and watch the people's faces as they watch the transformation from a stump to a creation," said Lewis.
Lewis was raised on a dairy farm in Pratt, Kansas and trained as and Industrial Engineer. He started carving, by hand, in 1992 and with a chain saw in 1996. He went full time into carving in 2002 when he was laid off from his engineering job due to downsizing.
It was scary, at first, Lewis said, but now he loves the freedom. He also teaches classes in wood carving.
"It's creative, it's fun and you get paid – that is everybody's dream," said Lewis. He gives ultimate credit for his creativity and gift to God's inspiration, he says.

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