Phoenixville chainsaw artist creates
art in the park
WEST CHESTER — Marshall Square Park is the new home to four owls, two squirrels, a fox, skunk, hummingbird, dragonfly, and new to the job, a wooden park caretaker.
On Monday, artist Marty Long was putting the finishing touches on chainsaw art carved into the remains of an 18-foot tall, five-foot diameter, and over 125-year-old red oak.
Long said the huge stump, near the intersection of East Biddle and North Franklin streets, is the perfect specimen for carving.
“It’s consistent in color with a dark center,” Long said, “It’s all about shadows. It shows off the forms really well.”
Anne Walters is a founding member of Friends of Marshall Square Park. She said the group wanted to preserve what was left of the tree after it half died. The borough didn’t fully finish the job of cutting down the whole tree and members of the group suggested a tree carving.
“It’s been in this park all this time and it should stay,” Walters said.
Long is a Phoenixville resident and former ice carver. With wood and chainsaws, he makes permanent art.
Long worked with music blasting through headphones on the project for more than three weeks. Regular rain showers slowed progress.
He appreciates that parkgoers, pedestrians and motorists will all view the 360-degree sculpture from different angles and see different things.
Long enjoys his job.
“It suits my personality,” he said. “I’m a free spirit.”
“I don’t set an alarm clock. I pay homage, while respecting nature, the environment and wildlife. I play up a variety of themes.”
Long might be best known for his Main Line wooden sculptures at Stoneleigh, the Haas Estate.
His stump-carved bunnies often wear outfits, including special garb for Mother’s and Father’s days, the first day of school, and all other holidays.
Long does not work alone; Harry J. Friel gives moral support and helps set up and break down.
Ninety-nine percent of the work is done with a chainsaw and when the job is almost complete, Long brings in sanders and grinders to finish off a project.
During the past few weeks, hundreds have gotten out of their cars or detoured on a walk through the park to snap photos of, and chat with Long.
Preschoolers from Friend’s School even stopped by to observe.
The 200-member Friends of Marshall Square Park is very active and recently brought the park’s fountain back to life.
The group also improved the gazebo, holds regular clean-up days, installed new benches and trash cans, holds “Music at Marshall” events, sets up luminaries during Old Fashioned Christmas and has installed signage.
A tree labeling project was instituted, the park’s classic brick swales have been unearthed and existing trees are cared for and maintained.
Long wants to thank Friends of Marshall Square Park “for all they do,” including promotion of public art.
Jim Salvas, FMSP Vice President, photographed Marty’s progress. Watch the tree change as Marty sculpts with his chainsaws, sanders, and grinders.
For photos, see the Dropbox folder called “TREE CARVING.”