Chainsaw artist brings eagle, bear to McKinley Street stump

Martha Winger, left, and Larry Bellis of 20577 135th St. commissioned Keenan to carve the stump.

A bald eagle, carved by Gary Keenan of Des Moines, keeps watch over the eastern approaches to 15001 J Ave. on Perry’s south side.

A paired eagle and bear are emerging from the stump of a derecho-blasted tree on Perry’s north side thanks to the initiative of Martha Winger and Larry Bellis of 20577 135th St.

“At first we planned to take the whole thing out,” Bellis said of the tree stump, “but then we thought it would be a fine place for a carving.”

The artwork is in progress by chainsaw sculptor Gary Keenan of Des Moines, who has been practicing his craft for 20 years, including nine stints at the Iowa State Fair and a similar number at the Kansas State Fair.

Keenan said he is largely self-taught, but he has picked up a few tricks of the trade from fellow artists at the world conference of chainsaw artists in Ridgeway, Pennsylvania. Most of his work in on trees, he said, but he has also made live edge tables and carved in clear ice.

The eagle is completely carved, and the bear will be finished in the next few days, Keenan said, and then the whole work will be painted.

In November Keenan completed work on the bald eagle in front of 15001 J Ave. on Perry’s south side, so the city’s northern and southern approaches will soon be guarded by the patriotic birds.


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