The Chicago Tree Project

Jim Long

Fishing Eagle

64th and Lake Shore Drive

2014

Thanks to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mike Dimitroff of the Chicago Park District, and Chicago Sculpture International for the opportunity to create these works of art for the citizens of Chicago.  The Chicago Tree Project repurposes condemned trees that would normally be destroyed, breathing new life into them.

Fishing Eagle was carved in two weeks with a chainsaw.  I was shown the tree in late November.  Two proposals were submitted and the eagle was approved.  I was very happy to carve in the wind, rain, and sleet in order to complete the work by mid-December of 2014.

I enjoyed stopping my work and speaking with all passersby as they asked what was happening. I explained that I can see what can be carved in any tree instantly. I simply carve away the excess until everyone can see what was imagined. These sculptures are designed to last several years.

Howling Wolf

Ol’ Blue

Nichols Park

2015

In Nichols Park, I was chosen to carve a tree that was damaged in a storm years ago.  I use chainsaws. After seeing the tree in early summer, I submitted two proposals, a wolf and a blue heron.  Nichols is a dog friendly park, so a wolf was chosen.  People passing by enjoyed the show very much.  I stopped work many times to speak with the locals and explain the exercise.

While carving the wolf that faces east to greet the rising moon, another tree became available nearby. That tree was transformed into Ol’ Blue, a blue heron with a fish in his beak. I derive inspiration from the shape of the tree to be carved.  It does not take long before I see what “lives” inside.  All that remains is the removal of excess material.  Special sealers are applied to mitigate decay so the piece may last several years.

A special thanks to Mike Dimitroff, Mrs. Comiskey, Mrs. Franklin, and Ayanna Peters for their help and encouragement.