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 Biloxi.

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.

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