Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Rare Visions’ show to feature McLouth chainsaw artist

July 3, 2007

Scott and Jannette Boulbin thought chainsaw carver Russ Ehart was just going to come out to their property and carve a decorative antique water pump out of a dead tree stump in their front yard.

But the carving, which took place last month at their house, will be in an upcoming episode of KCPT's show, "Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations."

"We had no idea," said Jannette Boulbin, after Ehart set up a tent filled with his equipment and banners from his sponsor, STIHL. "Russ just called us and asked if we would mind. I just called my husband and that's it."

The show revolves around Mike Murphy and Randy Mason, along with the talking cameraman Don Mayberger and a giant 68-pound ball of videotape, as they travel the country looking for strange out-of-the-way spots or interesting artwork from artists who had no previous training.

"We like finding things that aren't built by committee," Mason said. "So much of what people go to see these days are theme parks built by a focus group. As Don likes to say we are more like an unfocused group."

The "weasels," as the three men like to call themselves , because of their ability to get free stuff or weasel their way into things, had never been interested in chainsaw carvers because many of them make a living carving staple images of bears and eagles. But Ehart doesn't do bears or eagles.

Ehart, who in a previous interview said he never liked those, "stupid bears," or "square bears" as he liked to call them, does realistic and stylized carvings of people, such as the American Indian that now is on display at Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse restaurant. When the Boulbins asked Ehart to carve an eagle on top of the water pump, he quickly changed their minds and carved a hawk instead.

But it was more than Ehart's individual style of chainsaw carving that landed him in a segment of the upcoming show.

"That's what attracted us to him," Mason said.

It wasn't just his artwork that was attractive, but Ehart's persona that made the trio want to catch him on film. "As soon as I talked to him on the phone I said, 'oh yeah.' Russ has a certain on-camera je ne sais quoi."

The KCPT trio was filming Ehart as part of a one-hour special on local artists that is expected to air at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 on KCPT channel 19.

The special will feature places and artists within 70 miles of Kansas City.

"We wanted to focus on the fabulous people in our own back yard," said Murphy as he watched Ehart carve out chunks of wood on the tree stump. "This was really in our back yard."

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