If you see some tall statues as you're traveling to or from Tehachapi, you might be tempted to stop and pick up a chainsaw art piece.
Mike Moreno, a semi-retired contractor who lives out of town, has parked his equipment off Highway 202 near Old Town Road and is sculpting works of chainsaw art — with pieces ranging anywhere from four to more than eight feet tall and in the shape of bears, Indians or other custom-art pieces shaped out of blocks of pine and cedar logs.
“Most buyers are people who own cabins and 95 percent of people are in the mountains and they want these bears,” Moreno said. He added, “It’s huge, it's fun, and it's 3D. It brings the kid out inside of you and you want them.”
Moreno said it’s an art form that won’t break easily and is in high demand for clients who like to decorate their mountain homes. He travels to different areas selling his creations and enjoys seeing new places.
Dean Reich, a resident who stopped to see the pieces, said, “We live in Bear Valley Springs and they are a good conversation piece, plus they are unique.”
Moreno cuts the wood by chainsaw and details using a grinder. It can take days to weeks to make each piece, depending on the art form, Moreno said.
He added that he learned how to shape the forms from another artist teaching him in Big Bear. He also offers to pass on some knowledge to those who have their own equipment. An important artistic gift for designing the bears is knowing how to draw and turn images into shapes.
“You have to have an eye for dimension, so that matters,” Moreno said.