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Art-Thinking at Mickey's Fishcamp

“Art is everywhere in the forest,” my dad says as we drive slowly along the logging roads. With our Forest Service permit, we are heading out to look for tree burls and photograph the muskeg as it blooms.Within the last few years, my father started making walking sticks from bull pine (shore pine) burls. A burl, sometimes called a bur, is a round growth covered in bark. Burls are caused by stress: injury, virus, fungus, mold, or insect infestation.

All this art-thinking is something new to my dad. He’s turning 78 this month and he has realized he’s an artist, or at least that he has artistic talent. But what is art? Art is something we transform from a physical thing, like a tree growth, or from something intangible, like ideas or emotion, into something new and different: a burl on a tree into a walking stick or a poem about skunk cabbage.

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