In mid-July, a happy, toothy dragon moved onto the Fattor Family’s front lawn. When the large oak tree came down, Kevin and Clara wanted to have a large section of the trunk carved into an animal that everyone could enjoy. Their children, Cata and Cassady, wanted a dragon that could fly and swim. The tough job was finding a wood carver.
When Clare Wilson, our neighborhood artist and book designer, hurried across the street to get the autograph of the bearded woodsman with chisel and saw, we knew something exciting was happening on Woodridge Avenue. That man was Jim Calder, a master carver known as The Wizard of Wood. He was about to perform a little magic with the tree trunk on the front lawn. Jim Calder spent the next few days in the broiling sun creating a bright eyed, scaly bodied dragon wrapped around a bench seat for reading or resting. Cata, Cassady, and their Grandma kept Jim hydrated with delicious watermelon while he carved and polished the dragon.
As neighbors came by to watch his carving wizardry, Jim Calder welcomed each of us and shared some of his wonderful stories with us. His favorite story was about how frequently he had been mistaken for Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead (see photo, below left). Others included the annual childhood fishing trips to Maine with his Uncle Alexander, his service in Viet Nam in the 1960s, and the joys of creating more than 1,200 tree trunk sculptures greater than 20-feet in height all over the world.
Please enjoy the dragon as you walk by on Woodridge Avenue. Rumor has it the dragon has been keeping the deer away. Deer must be afraid of dragons.
Just as an art history note, Jim Calder’s uncle, Alexander Calder, created quite a few well-known metal sculptures (mobiles and stabiles valued from $10–$30 million) that are displayed in most major museums around the world. Now, Woodridge has its own Calder. ■
© 2016 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201610f.html]