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Chainsaw madness: Carvers to showcase their skills Saturday in Osakis

This group of chainsaw carvers will demonstrate their skills at Moonshine Madness Saturday. They are (left to right) Perry Carlson, Scott Johnson, Doug Johnson, Dave Brenna, Tom Brosseau and Joe Wavra. Not pictured is Bonnie Jans. (Contributed) 1 / 7
Joe Wavra takes inspiration for his carvings from the Klondike area near Red Lake Falls. (Contributed)2 / 7
Tom Brosseau does most of his carving work west of Thief River Falls. (Contributed)3 / 7
Besides carving wood with a chainsaw, Dave Brenna also enjoys fishing. (Contributed)4 / 7
Perry Carlson not only carves wood he also works with marble and ice. (Contributed) 5 / 7
Doug Johnson of Osakis shows one of his chainsaw carvings. He and six other chainsaw artists will be at Moonshine Madness Saturday. (Contributed)6 / 7
Bonnie Jans will be among seven chainsaw carvers who will showcase their talent at Osakis Moonshine Madness this Saturday. (Contirbuted)7 / 7

A group of chainsaw carvers will add rip-roaring fun to this year's Moonshine Madness Day in Osakis.

They'll be doing "quick carve" demonstrations downtown on Saturday, Sept. 8, finishing a project in one hour starting at 10 a.m. and then repeating the feat at 1 p.m. They will also be working on their individual projects.

Doug Johnson, elementary wrestling coach in Osakis and a full-time chainsaw carver, said that seven carvers from throughout the state — all friends who have known each other for years through their passion for carving — will converge in Osakis to create their masterpieces.

"This is the first show we're all doing together," Johnson said. "It will be one of the biggest carving shows in the state — and a good one!"

All their pieces will be auctioned off downtown starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. A portion of the proceeds will help support the Osakis Wrestling Club.

"My son and daughter both wrestled through elementary and high school," Johnson said. "By supporting the wrestling club, I am hoping to pass on my family's appreciation for the sport and the opportunities it has given us."

The carvers are as unique as their individual styles. They all have different backgrounds, experience and reasons why they became so immersed in their art.

Even their physical traits are a contrast. Johnson, for instance, stands 5 feet, 5 inches and weighs about 140 pounds, while a fellow carver, Dave Brenna, is 6-foot-10-inches tall and weighs 465 pounds.

The Review asked the carvers to provide biographical background:

Doug Johnson

Johnson and his wife, Andrea, live in Osakis where they raised two children, Devyn and Seth. "My fellow carvers and I plan to put on a good show. They each have their own amazing and unique style," Johnson said. "Stop by and see the sawdust fly. I'll be the guy with the cut-off sleeves."

Johnson added that he appreciates the community support the carvers have received. Lake Victoria Resort, for example, is donating stays for the seven carvers and their guests.

Perry Carlson

Carlson started carving wood in 1987. He traveled to Italy in 2005 to study marble sculpting and is also an award winning ice sculptor.

Joe Wavra

Wavra and his wife, Chris, live in a log home they built themselves in a beautiful area of Red Lake Falls known as the Klondike. Carving has become an important part of Joe's life over the past 17 years as he tries to capture some of the history of the unique place he calls home.

Trappers, voyageurs, Native Americans, and the animals that they hunted are some of his specialties. Inspiration comes from long canoe rides where the Wavras come across some of the driftwood that become carvings of spirits from a bygone age.

For the past seven years, Wavra has been carving trolls for the city of Thief River Falls, the Sons of Norway and area businesses.

Scott Johnson

For many years, Scott Johnson dabbled in different forms of art, none of which held his attention. He became interested in chainsaw carving after attending a carving show in Park Rapids in 2009. He started chainsaw carving as a hobby while working construction.

He's been carving full time since 2013 at Landquist Rustic Wood Furnishings in Park Rapids and still enjoys carving and learning from seeing and talking with other carvers.

Dave Brenna

Standing 6-foot-10 at 465 pounds, this "man beast" is a fierce competitor in any carving arena. With the likes of Paul Bunyan and who some call Sasquatch, Brenna hails from the vast wilderness of north central Minnesota.

This Picasso with a saw can capture critters only few men have ever laid eyes upon before. He's been dazzling crowds with a roaring Husqvarna since 2013.

Bonnie Jans

Jans, the lone female carver in the group, prefered to put her biography in prose:

Since I'm not exactly

Of the normal convention,

Chainsaw carving was

Part of my reinvention.

The reinvention of self

Upon turning the age of 50

(That and getting

A Yamaha V-Star 950.)

ACGC science teacher,

Always working on growth mindset,

Has made over 200 carvings

And I haven't burned one yet.

I added doing a carving show

To my bucket list,

So when Doug Johnson asked,

I didn't exactly resist.

Four years later and releasing

Critters from wood to show it.

And by now you may have realized

...I'm also a dorky poet.

Tom Brosseau

Brosseau is from Thief River Falls and started carving when he was about 19 years old as a pastime. In 2010 he watched some chainsaw artists and decided to go home and give it a try.

Brosseau has been hooked on carving with a chainsaw ever since. He still enjoys carving smaller pieces but says the speed of a chainsaw is addictive to him and became his obsession.

He does most of his carving just west of Thief River Falls.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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