Monday, July 30, 2012

"A Man & His Sculpture"

Initially I referred to him as "Mountain Man" as I catalogued a group of photographs from a recent trip to Tennessee, because that's where I discovered him:  sitting in his rocker on the porch of his studio, perched above a two-lane road on the side of a mountain.  Actually his name's  Jess Betschart and he's much more than a mountain man. He's an artist.  And  he's a genuine American character,  whether he's sittin' and whittlin' or just talking with visitors who've come to see his work.   But when he gets around to doing some serious whittling, he creates inspired carvings, whether it's a majestic eagle, a whimsical bear or a primitive crucifix. So if you're ever in Monteagle TN and decide to drive "off the mountain" down Hiway 41, look for the rustic carved sign "Sculpture in Wood", and be prepared to make a quick turn up a winding dirt drive to Jess's magical world of art.  You'll be glad you did.