By | Carlos Olloqui
For some people, a fallen redwood in the middle of the forest is nothing more than another tree at the end of its time. For Jessie Groeschen, it is an empty canvas awaiting her chainsaw.
Groeschen is a local chainsaw artist who has traveled all around the world. She is also the author of Art of Chainsaw Carving.
“It all starts with my chainsaw, a piece of wood and an idea,” Groeschen said. “I just love what I do.”
Born in the Philippines, Groeschen moved to the U.S. at the age of two and has lived in Arcata for the past 10 years. She has been woodworking for over 20 years now.
“It was furniture first, but I was always interested in art,” Groeschen said. “Then I met Pat McVay, he was wood sculpting at the time and I studied with him for seven years before I struck out on my own.”
In 2015, Groeschen graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art.
“I was so close to campus I thought, ‘why not go back and finish school,’ and so I did,” Groeschen said.
Groeschen works from her shop located in the garage of her Arcata home. She is currently working on a number of projects including a pair of wood carvings for two siblings, one of a dragon and the other of a kestrel.
“I only use wood that’s already down,” Groeschen said. “I believe different types of wood all have their own personality and characteristics.”
During the month of February, Groeschen also makes “flaming hearts,” since it is the “month of love,” as she said.
“I don’t have a physical gallery where I sell my work,” Groeschen said. “I have a website, people contact me, and sometimes I just sell them at places around town.”
Jeni Sue Wilmore works at Almquist Lumber, a local lumber and woodworking supply company.
“We have sold some of Jessie’s carvings here, I enjoy watching her in action when she does demonstrations here,” Wilmore said. “She spent several days carving a bear and salmon sculpture in our parking lot, so original and creative.”
Some of Groeschen’s wood pieces can take her less than an hour to complete, others can take her over a year.
“It’s really just therapy for me,” Groeschen said. “I do this for myself.”
Not only is Groeschen an artist and an author, some say she is an inspiration.
Bill Weber is team captain at Arborwear, a tree climbing gear and apparel supply store in Ohio.
“Although I have not spoken to Jessie I know her work has inspired so many artists. She is a total badass,” Weber said. “What she does with a chainsaw will make you stare in awe.”
Arcata is just a temporary location for Groeschen. When the time is right she hopes to open her own cabin retreat for art and healing.
“I have some land in Minnesota and the cabin is already there,” Groeschen said. “I just want some place where people can go and woodwork, do ceramics, write, a place for all types of art.”