Coast Salish artist and carver Claude “Rocky” LaRock did Agassiz-Harrison proud during the 2021 Chainsaw Carving Competition in Hope this year.
“It’s quite a challenge with all these other guys,” he said of his fellow carvers. “They’re just like a bunch of perfectionists, and I”m far from that.”
The energy, camaraderie and excitement in Hope was palpable for LaRock.
“It’s my medicine,” LaRock said with a smile as he looked around. “We went to dinner and you should’ve heard how loud it was! You couldn’t even hear anybody talking; they were all just rambling on like they hadn’t seen each other in 80 years.”
LaRock said he could feel the spirit of the late, legendary chainsaw carver Pete Ryan at this year’s competition. Ryan passed away last year at age 70. This past weekend marked the first competition without his physical presence.
“Every time I look somewhere, I think I see him, standing right there,” he said. “He’s here in spirit, I know that. His family is here, some of his stuff is here, his truck is here. He’s here in spirit, for sure.”
For those looking to take up their chainsaw and carve out their own artistic careers, LaRock said a love and connection to nature is important.
“You’ve got to have the forest, got to have the water and a connection with the land, the plants and the animals” he added. “There’s a spirit in every one of these plants, every one of these trees, up in that mountain and in the water. When you’re grounded and connected and focused, the sky’s the limit.”