Wood carving statues erected in Yep Kanum Park

RaeLynn Ricarte

It isn’t everyday that you see someone walking into Yep Kanum Park with a chainsaw, but that’s just a way of life for Stephen Higgins, who spent last week in Colville working on two new stump carvings.
“I just saw someone doing this as a kid and I never wanted to do anything else,” said the Northport native who is now 34 and makes his home in Kansas City, Missouri.
He has been carving as a full-time job for the past 11 years. 
Higgins was going to be in the area to visit family, so the timing was good — if a little chilly — to get work funded by the Vinson Committee done in Colville. 
Higgins added a bald eagle and heron to the bear that he had previously carved. He also repaired the the weathered sculpture and coated it with a special preservative.
“Craftsmen used to be in every village and it is something that we don’t see as often now,” he said. “Everybody’s always really positive and seems to appreciate seeing it.”
The beauty of creating public art, said Higgins, is the feedback and the ability to work on his own schedule. He anticipated that it would take two days to complete the job.
“I measure time by how many cups of coffee I drink — I don’t really go by the clock,” he said. 
Occasionally, people wandered by the work site to watch him apply the blade to the wood, which he also enjoyed.
“People seem to respond well to the wood, it has a warm feel to it,” he said. 
Mayor Louis Janke said the details in the art produced by Higgins are captivating.
“These carvings add a unique twist to our arts and culture,” he said. “Go see them, you will be awed.”
Another new local art
addition is the “Joy of Movement” metal sculpture created by David Govedare and installed last week along the Rotary Trail. That work was also paid for with Vinson dollars.
“This is a unique sculpture celebrating runners and siting of it will enhance its visibility and attractiveness,” said Janke. “I can envision cross country skiing in the area on a full moon lit with the statue embracing the night.”
In the last five years, about 65 projects and events have received funding through the bequeathment of the late Robert Vinson, who died in 2012.
He entrusted $2.5 million to the city to use for cultural enrichment of the citizens of Colville and the region around the city, which includes Kettle Falls.

Find more on this story in the Oct. 16 issue of The Statesman-Examiner.