Artist transforms Jones Park tree into art

Artist transforms Jones Park tree into art

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Dayton Scoggins is a chainsaw artist who was the first wood carver to transform Hurricane Katrina battered trees into works of art along Highway 90. And this award-winning carver has returned for another project in Gulfport's Jones Park.

Scoggins is a humble man from Heidelberg, Mississippi, whose enormous talent is quite evident to anyone who watches him work. His business is Artistry in Wood and his primary instrument, a chainsaw.  And his canvas, the tree trunks of a dying live oak in Jones Park.

"It's right here on the beach," said Scoggins, "So they definitely want something nautical."

Scoggins and his son, Kenny, are both award-winning wood carvers.  But for all his success, he remains humble when discussing his artistic ability.

"Me and a buddy of mine kind of have an argument about what God's gift is. He thinks the gift is the ability to carve and I tell him I think it's the desire to carve. 'Cause if you have the desire, you'll do the work it takes to figure out how to do it," said Scoggins.

He is a proud father, who's passed on his considerable wood carving knowledge and talents to his son, Kenny.

"I'm fortunate. I got a lucky teacher, my Dad. He taught me," said Kenny, "I love working with my Dad."

He is an artist who often attracts a crowd. People love to watch him at work. They will take pictures and talk to the artist about what he sees in that tree and how it's coming to life as a sculpture.

Michelangelo once said, every block of stone has a statue in it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. In Scoggins' case, the artistic form is hidden in wood.

It was easy to spot a pelican and dolphin taking shape.

"Well, there's a few more in there. We'll figure out what's in there as we go," said a smiling Scoggins.

Debbie Bond admires this artistic expression. In fact, she's writing a book about the wooden sculptures along the beach front.

"The artwork is amazing that he's done. I can't do that with a paper and pencil, much less a chainsaw," said the Ocean Springs resident.

Though Dayton Scoggins does this for a living, the real motivation isn't the money. It's sharing the gift and leaving behind something beautiful.

"Putting a smile on people's faces, you know, is probably the best thing," said the artist.

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