Cutting loose: Man quits trucker job to be a chain saw artist
Ten years ago, Jesse Green drove past a two-foot-wide section of cut-down pine tree and began to carve out his future.
"My mouth was watering when I saw that tree," said Green, an Ashland resident.
Green, then an art major at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, didn't wait. He lifted the tree into the back of his van, took it to his house off campus, and drove to Home Depot to buy a chain saw.
Sunday, the 30-year-old budding artist pulled the cord to his Echo chain saw with its 20-inch bar and cut away the bark and wood of another piece of pine as a three-dimensional caricature began to take shape.
Wood chips flew about him as Green used his chain saw to exaggerate the broad smile of his soldier friend, Mike Mueller of Somerset. His former Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity brother leaves for Iraq in September.
A man of his timber, Green wanted to whimsically express in wood how proud he is of his friend.
"I also wanted his 2-year-old son, Christos, to have a reminder of him while he serves with the Special Forces in Iraq," said the 6-foot Green, who carved the sculpture at his parents' home in Holliston.
While Green sawed his way into the 2.5-foot-high pine, as part of his demonstration, he aimed his chain saw in front of him, behind him, and over his head and pushed the trigger to increase the volume of the engine's roar.
After Green finishes that sculpture with a disc grinder, then primes and paints it, he leaves for the Los Angeles County Fair, where for one month he will be the feature chain saw carver for the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Shows.
"(That) is pretty much my every dream come true as far as where my art can pay me to go," said Green. "So right now I'm just prepping for the trip, gathering up my tools, making a list and checking it like 800 times."
Each day at the fair, Green will demonstrate his chain saw art by carving into a nine-foot section of a California red cedar and produce two 4 1/2-foot creations.
As part of the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Shows, Green plans to branch out and learn log-rolling and how to throw an ax competitively. Once he has added these talents to his list, with a bit of luck he will travel the world with the lumberjack shows.
While Green never forgot his passion for wood carving, after college he worked at Camp Hollywood at Oahu, dabbled in sales, and most recently drove a tractor-trailer truck for UPS Freight in Southborough. Then he experienced an epiphany similar to the one he had in college.
"I could just see all of my 'artistic' goals slipping through my fingers while busting my hump 60 hours a week driving trucks," Green wrote in an e-mail. "I knew my last pre-parental fun years were going to be gone in an instant and I'd miss the opportunity to try and 'make it' with my art."
While driving a trailer through Braintree, it hit him.
"I needed to really go for all of my artistic, creative, entrepreneurial goal dreams like right now or risk missing my window," Green wrote. "So I decided that now was strategically the perfect time for me to try. So far I'd have to say that it's been good."
He's much happier, added his wife Beth. "He doesn't grumble on Monday mornings any more," she said.
Not big into chain saw production, Green creates his original works of art upon requests from clients. Nearby, a sampling of his gallery of carvings includes an Indian, a thousand-pound wood carving of a bear, and what he calls the "He Believes in Me" sculpture, which is one person standing on top of another. The piece honors Donald Howard, dean of students where Green and his wife graduated. Green plans to donate the sculpture to the school.
"It figuratively shows how he (Howard) made us reach for our potential," said Green.
Chain saws aren't Green's only medium. He has sold a mural in water-based acrylics for a family in Westford and a pen-and-ink drawing of a couple's home in New Jersey.
"So I'm off to a very busy, great start, I think," said Green.
Kathy Uek of The MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.) can be reached at 508-626-4419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.