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Windfall tree gets makeover for Nevis Sites ’n Bites

Artist Paul Albright purposely created an ambiguous image, so viewers can exercise their own creativity, during the city's art, craft, food and music festival on Sunday.

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Paul Albright stands by the art work he incorporated into the remains of the fallen half of the split-trunked Willow tree behind Shenanigans. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, June 13, 2021)

Nevis Sites ’n Bites had a hot, sunny day on Sunday, June 13. Nevertheless, turnout was surprisingly lukewarm after a year of public events being canceled due to COVID-19.

Artist Paul Albright, who spent the morning carving a face into the broken trunk of the windfall willow tree in Shenanigans’ yard, commented about the disappointing attendance.

Nevertheless, the community put its best foot forward with food stands, arts and crafts booths and live music playing at both Shenanigans and the Muni.

Visitors, many of them towing their dogs, enjoyed pizza by the slice, brats and ice cream while pausing in the shade to listen to music by MorningBird, New Salty Dog and Hunter Schroeder.

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MorningBird, a.k.a. Jill Burkes and Rob Wheeler, sing "Play a Train Song" Sunday on the Shenanigan's Stage. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, June 13, 2021)

Shenanigans owner Tracy Ganley said half of the big, twin-trunked willow came down in a storm in early August 2020, and Albright suggested doing the carving as part of the arts and crafts focus of Sites ’n Bites.

“I approached them this spring, wondering whether they had plans with it, and they said, ‘We really don’t,’” Albright explained. “I said, ‘What if I were to do some sort of carving on it?’ and they were happy to hear that.”

“I think it’s great,” Ganley said of the artwork.

Albright said he started carving at 8 a.m. and finished it around 3 p.m. “I usually don’t do fast carvings,” he said, but he noted that the willow was many Nevisites’ favorite tree and that he has already received strong feedback about it.

“One gal was emotional and said she wanted to cry,” he said, “because she realized it kind of brought it back to life to a certain extent. It was an emotional loss, for a tree. But I’m right along with them.”

The carving shows a face crowned by shapes, somewhat like leaves, which Albright said is intended to be ambiguous.

“I try to shoot for the middle – happy or sad, male or female,” he said. “Some of it’s unclear, if they’re leaves and so on. It kind of works with that broken-down look to (the tree) as well.”

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Albright said children watching him carve the tree asked him questions, and it was fun to see them open up to the possibility of creating their own interpretations. “They really seemed to enjoy the spontaneity of it,” he said.

Related Topics: NEVIS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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