2012-08-30 / Community
Carving out a masterpiece
Chain saw sculptor creates replica of ‘David’ at Janss Marketplace
Since then, the Calabasas resident has been making a living creating realistic and abstract figures with the jagged blade of a motorized saw at his shop in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Now he’s found a way to share his talent with the nation.
Last Friday, the chain-sawwielding artist was hard at work carving the final details of a 16-foot-tall wooden replica of Michelangelo’s “David” in the fountain courtyard of the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks.
“People don’t expect you to be able to make beautiful art with such a mean and violent tool,” Poitras said.
“He’s talented. The ‘David’ replica is well done,” said Thousand Oaks resident Norman Campbell, who has seen the original piece of art at a museum in Florence, Italy.
A crew from the CMT Network filmed the action for its new TV show “Chainsaw Gang.”
The 10-episode reality series features Poitras and a group of chain saw artists who have to deal with blades breaking, chain saws bursting into flames and personality conflicts as they create works of art, according to the television network.
“We already filmed two shows. This was the third,” Poitras said. “The other two were taped in Wisconsin at a national chain saw competition.”
Poitras is one of the supervis- ing producers for the show, which is scheduled to air this fall.
“The reason we’re here today is because I pitched a reality show to a production company. They follow me around while I’m doing my chain saw art,” he said.
Poitras said Discovery Channel’s “American Choppers,” a reality series that centers on a group of custom motorcycle builders, inspired him to develop the concept for “Chainsaw Gang.”
“It’s basically the same idea, although we’re making art instead of motorcycles.”
A Massachusetts native, Poitras attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and majored in painting, but after seeing an artist from Minnesota use a chain saw to create a bear from a log, he changed the tools he was using.
“I wanted to be (Leonardo) da Vinci. I thought sculptors were too dirty, always covered with dust, and painters can be clean and elegant. But after I saw this guy carving with a chain saw I changed my mind, and the rest is history. Now I’m a dirty sculptor eating sawdust,” he said.
Poitras owns Deadwood Tree Sculptures in Agoura Hills.
He said he chose to sculpt the celebrated figure to challenge himself.
“‘David’ is known as the best artwork of all time, and Michelangelo was the best artist of all time. If I can emulate Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ then I must be a great artist,” said the 44-year-old, who began his “David” project with a plain redwood tree trunk on Aug. 20.
As the cameras rolled at noon on Friday, Poitras threw his chain saw to fellow sculptor Rio de- Jarnett, who proceeded to trim a section of the statue’s body.
“Stacy and I go back about 12 years,” deJarnett said. “We’re partners in carving. He’s Deadwood and I’m Malibu Mountain Gallery, and he and I work out of the same shop.”
Thousand Oaks resident Laura Torreblanca and her three children were impressed with the unusual spectacle at the marketplace.
“It’s fascinating to see the cutting away from a piece of wood and making of a piece of art,” Torreblanca said.
“I’ve never seen something like it,” her son Alexander added.
The chain saw sculpture was completed just in time for a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday.
Poitras said the statue will go back to his shop for additional detail work. The finishing job will take about a month or two, and then the piece will be put up for sale for $30,000.
“I’m hoping that the (Janss Marketplace) buys it because it seems fitting here,” Poitras said.