Visitors to the Doelger Center in Daly City might notice the absence of a prominent Monterey pine, but the same tool that cut most of the disease-infected tree down, thechainsaw, also kept its spirit alive by making art from its trunk.
Infected by pitch canker, a tree disease ravaging pine trees up and down California, the tree needed to come down, according to city officials. Artist Mark Colp, however, was commissioned by the Doelger Senior Center Advisory Council to carve something with a California-theme from the roughly 15-foot stump.
The result is a collection of native animals that appeared overnight and now greet visitors.
"It’s a wonderful way to transform the loss of a tree," said Margie Doris, a resident of Daly City for the past 20 years.
As visitors approach the building, the bear waves from its perch in the tree and the raccoon peeks out from a hole. An owl hides on the backside of the tree — a surprise for explorers checking out the site.
At the top is an eagle, with detailed feathering on its wings, that appears to circle above.
Starting the night of Jan. 16, Colp carved the animals using six different saws that ranged from a 30-inch carving blade to an 8-inch blade, working for approximately nine hours overnight.
"When he was carving the eagle wings, it was like a pencil — the light touch he had," said Sue Horst, the senior service supervisor.
So far, visitors to the center appear enamored with the initial carving. Hundreds of people have stopped to look, and officials are considering the creation of a sanctuary for people to sit and enjoy the environment, Horst said.
"All the buildings seem to disappear and it looks like the eagle is soaring over the Monterey pines in the background," said Colp, a 42-year-old Lakeport resident who has carved since 1981. The master carver grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, watching his father Don, a pioneer in chainsaw carving, and brothers practice the art.
"It’s a great feeling to take a raw piece of material and create something that’seye-pleasing to people," Colp said.
Horst credits Mike Stallings, the director of Daly City Parks and Recreation, for having the vision to turn the dying tree into art, at a cost of less than $2,000, rather than removing it altogether. There’s talk of doing the same with another Monterey pine in front of the center also struggling with pitch canker.