Start your chainsaws

    A bear is carved into a tree in the yard outside Brenda Pardee’s home on Rogue River Highway. This type of folk art has presented an opportunity to Medford city officials to transform two stumps in two city parks into public sculptures. - Bob Pennell

    An increasingly popular form of modern folk art may be gracing Medford parks in the spring.

    The Medford Arts Commission is putting out a call to all chainsaw artists to transform two stumps in two popular city parks into sculptures as public art.

    The city has budgeted up to $3,500 for each stump sculpture — a 20-foot-tall redwood in Donahue-Frohnmayer Park on Spring Street and a 14-foot-tall sequoia at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park on Holmes Avenue.

    The project is the brainchild of city arborist Bill Harrington, who saw an opportunity after he had to cut down the trees, which had died.

    "I just didn't want to see the trees cut down completely," he said, adding that he'll plant replacement trees nearby.

    "I've done a little bit of carving myself, but certainly something like this would need to be done by a professional."

    Chainsaw art is sprouting up everywhere, from championships to craft shows and yard sculptures.

    Brenda Pardee and her partner, Mel Strain, were drawn to chainsaw bear carvings when they saw them on a coastal vacation.

    "We just fell in love with the bears," she said.

    They talked with the artist about how a tree in their front yard along Rogue River Highway east of Rogue River was showing no signs of life. Two and a half years ago, the artist carved seven bears, two raccoons, two owls and an eagle into its trunk and branches.

    Pardee said she loves the animals. Strain died in August, and Pardee said she plans to have two more bears and a bench crafted as a memorial to him.

    Althea Godfrey, arts commission chairwoman, said some people think of chainsaw art as a rough design that's created quickly. That's not what the commission is looking for.

    "We're looking for something sophisticated," she said.

    She said the commissioners approved the idea unanimously and hope the designs have an association to the parks.

    Harrington said the sequoia beside the sand volleyball courts could be something like a sports totem pole, and the redwood could be carved into a redwood tree, for example.

    Proposals are due by 11 a.m. Nov. 28.

    The Arts Commission is scheduled to review proposals Dec. 3 and the carvings must be completed by April. For more information, call 774-2035 or visit the city's Web site at

    Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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