FROM DEATH TO ART AFTER KATRINA
Special thanks to Alex Craft for
sending this in to us.
During Katrina's aftermath, there
were thousands of trees that had been knocked over, uprooted, and thrown
all over the gulf coast. The Department of Transportation's decision was
to bulldozed them, much to the residents dismay. These threes were just as
old as some of the historic homes of the coast, if not older, and were
just as much a part of the coast's history. There were many trees said to
have been as old as six hundred years.
Mayor of Biloxi, A.J. Holloway. intervened. He began a sculpture project
in January 2007 when Public Affairs Manager Vincent Creel spoke with
Mississippi “chainsaw artist” Dayton Scoggins about sculpting
marine-related figures from the dozens of standing dead trees in the
median of Beach Boulevard in Biloxi.
In March 2007, after MDOT crews "topped" the dead trees, Scoggins made the
first of two sculpting visits to Biloxi, creating egrets, seagulls,
pelicans and dolphins from a collection of trees just west of the Biloxi
Lighthouse. Scoggins's initial five sculptures (a $7,000 investment for
the city) inspired Fort Walton Beach, Fla, sculptor and frequent Biloxi
visitor Marlin Miller to approach the city about donating his time and
talent to sculpting more standing dead trees in the center medians in
Miller, who exhibits sculptures at shows nationally, wanted to leave his
mark on Biloxi and return the favor of Biloxians who had helped his
community recover after Hurricane Ivan a couple years earlier. Miller's
efforts represent the majority of the 20 works of art in Biloxi. During
his multiple sculpting visits, he has refused any reimbursement or payment
for his public works of art.
Today, rarely a day goes by that local or visitors are not seen admiring
or photographing the sculptures. A visitors survey by the Gulf Coast
Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the sculptures are one of the
top attractions on the Mississippi Coast.