Artist transforms trunk

MESOPOTAMIA – Yvonne Mulidore said she couldn’t begin to guess what the man with the chain saw was carving into the top of the tree trunk next to The End of the Commons General Store.

On Saturday, the Windham woman was among dozens of people who gathered to watch Bob Anderson transform the tree trunk into a detailed sculpture.

“You can make out the tree tops at the top of it,” Mulidore said. “But it’s hard to say at this point. I have no idea. It will be interesting to see what it is when he’s done.”

The End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia commissioned the Rock Creek artist to carve the 15-foot trunk into a detailed sculpture. But a sculpture of what was left a mystery.

He is using chain saws of various sizes and lengths as well as hand rotary tools and sanders.

Anderson started the project Friday. On Saturday, small groups of people gathered around the tree throughout the afternoon to examine his work, encourage him along the process and ask him questions.

However, Jamae Fitch of Lyndhurst said she wouldn’t dare try to trick him into telling her what he’s creating.

“He’s an artist. We’re not suppose to know that until it’s done. I’m OK with that,” she said.

Spectators also didn’t seem to mind the saw dust swirling from the work area Anderson had sectioned off by caution tape.

“It’s fascinating,” said Brett Woods of Clarion, Pa.

“I remember the old tree being here,” said Herman McEndree of Windham. “I wanted to come and see what it was all about, what was going on. I’ve always liked tree art. I’ve never really watched someone actually do it before. It’s something. You can see how much work he puts into it.”

Carving is scheduled to continue today and next weekend. The public is invited to watch at no cost.

The 300-year-old oak tree was damaged by a storm last summer.

Mary Ellen Dyson, manager of the deli / cafe at the store, said that the tree stands next to the old-fashioned store, which first opened for business more than 170 years ago. The End of the Commons General Store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest operating general stores in the United States.