DEL MAR — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for a Torrey pine tree stump that was recently transformed into a piece of public art Councilman Terry Sinnott described as “uniquely Del Mar.”
Late last year the tree became infected with bark beetles. A decision was made to remove it so other nearby trees wouldn’t be damaged.
Del Mar resident David Arnold drove by the day chainsaw-wielding crews began taking it down.
“On my way back they were still cutting,” Arnold said. “I was just moved to do something. So I went up to the guy with the chainsaw and I asked him if he would stop and he said ‘no.’”
Arnold, an artist who helped design the city logo about five years ago, immediately contacted Sinnott and city staff members, who ultimately supported his plans and work to remove the stump was stopped.
Arnold then created two clay models and presented them to the Parks and Recreation Department, which selected one.
A modified version was approved by the City Council in February. Arnold said the process was “astoundingly smooth” and “a very happy occasion” until reality set in.
“I thought, ‘Now what am I going to do?’” he said.
Arnold eventually enlisted the help of Tim Richards, a local carver who created the tiki head at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas.
The Del Mar piece features a red-tailed hawk, which is the official bird of the Torrey Pines State Reserve where the stump is located. It also includes a west-facing seat that “was really gnarly” to carve, Arnold said.
The carving work took about three weeks to complete. The piece was sealed the day before the ribbon cutting.
Sinnott praised Arnold for his “stop, wait, don’t do any more efforts and his creativity in figuring out what we could do with the remaining tree stump.”
“He was able to initiate a creative sculpture and seat that people … can celebrate,” Sinnott said. “We’re here to not only celebrate the completion of this sculpture, but to honor David Arnold, who is our creator and designer, our carver, Tim Richards … and to just feel happy about what we can create through nature, through creativity, through our residents, through our cooperation with our Public Works (Department).
“It really is something that is uniquely Del Mar and we’re hoping that people in the future will celebrate and enjoy this location,” he added.
Richards was out of town and unable to attend, but his wife said he was “honored to have done the work.”
“Thank you city of Del Mar for letting me carve it!” a posting on his Facebook reads.