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Midvale councilman carving out reputation as charitable sculptor

Published February 8, 2014 9:54 pm

Art • Armed with a chain saw, he turns tree stumps into bears.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Midvale • Most city council members hope to leave their mark on their community in some way.

Midvale Councilman Wayne Sharp's approach is fairly unique.

Sharp, a landscaper and tree removal expert, uses chain saws to carve characters out of logs or trees.

With the help of his wife, Treena, and son Tyler, he has donated many creations to Midvale.

In front of the fire station there's a life-size firefighter fitted with a helmet and air tanks and holding an ax. Sharp sculpted a life-size bear police officer with a belt, gun, Taser and handcuffs. The bear salutes from his perch in front of Midvale's police station.

Ever notice a 9-foot-tall bear greeting drivers exiting Interstate 15 at 7200 South? Sharp donated that. His bears also grace the city park, and he plans additional sculptures next year at city hall and the public works department.

His and Tyler Sharp's latest project involves turning two tree stumps at Family Support Center's Midvale crisis nursery into characters that children can enjoy and even use as part of their outdoor playground. Wayne Sharp carved a bear behind the center a little over a year ago.

"The trees we cut down were dangerous, very large and very old. They were breaking all the time," said Susan McGray, crisis nursery director.

Why not turn the stumps into sculptures?

"They are beautiful and a lot of fun, and they are making one so kids can crawl through there and it can be a play place for them."

McGray said the children love watching the Sharps carve the stumps. One boy watched with delight as Tyler worked on a stump Friday.

"It cheers up the kids, is nice for the community and is very fun for us," McGray said.

Wayne Sharp so far has spent about 16 hours turning his tree stump into a playground piece with an eagle adorning the top.

He and his son use standard chain saws that can be purchased at most hardware stores.

He can turn out a small sculpture in about an hour. Larger ones can take up to 60 hours.

Tyler Sharp, 23, has helped his father with the landscaping business since he was 12.

"He watched me do 40 or 50 of [the sculptures] and I showed him how to do it when he was 12 or 13," Sharp said.

Tyler said the family keeps his first attempt at a chain saw sculpture, a bear with a fishing pole, on top of the refrigerator at the family cabin. His mom won't let him sell it.

"You can almost recognize it's a bear," he said, smiling. "That's what started it off."

Tyler said the best part of carving is when people watch him because he can remember watching wood carvers and seeing what can emerge from the wood.

While the Sharps donate some of their work to the community, they also sell some and take commissions.

"I have been doing a lot of trees in people's yards," Wayne Sharp said. "I carve whatever they want. I can do just about anything."

wharton@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribtomwharton