Warwick artist carves out his niche

| 30 Sep 2011 | 08:41

Warwick - Jim Haggart is someone I’ve passed for years while driving down Route 94, marveling at his talent, but never really getting to know who he was or why he does what he does. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. Who is this person who can create something so beautiful from something so ordinary? Within moments of my first meeting with him, he is transforming a gnarled log of wood into an intricate and amazingly realistic sculpture of a bear. Using his chainsaw like a paintbrush, he cuts with precision, effortlessly exposing each minute detail of the bear’s form. Though artistically inclined as a child, he’d never sculpted or even picked up a chainsaw before carving his first creation. However, after spying a chainsaw in his father’s yard, he carved out a comical face in a tree stump and from that moment he was hooked. When asked if he formally studied art, he replied that he took one art class in college, got a D and dropped it. Not one to be discouraged, this 38-year-old self-starter soon found his calling - Jim’s Chainsaw Creations. He’s been creating his chainsaw sculptures for 15 years now, the last 13 of those years as a full-time profession, sculpting on average 450 of them every year. Each of these wooden sculptures takes between one and twenty-four hours to create, and they range in price from $100 to $500. His best sellers, the bears; his personal favorite, the eagles. So far, business has been generated exclusively by word-of-mouth and his clients include both locals and tourists, including Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Chopper fame. His “gallery” is currently an outdoor space at Penning’s Farm Market on Route 94 in Warwick, where one can admire his work, purchase a piece on-site and watch the artist at his craft. He’s there from March through December, every Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weather permitting. His dedication is admirable. In his words: “If it’s above 20 degrees, I’m here.” Just keep your distance when he’s got the chainsaw cranked up, because I’m still brushing the sawdust out of my hair. Tom Ciriello is a freelance photographer living in Warwick with his wife and daughter. To see more of his images, log on to http://tomciriellophotography.com.