As Eagle watches, sculpture unfolds at downtown home | VailDaily.com

As Eagle watches, sculpture unfolds at downtown home

EAGLE — Sometimes public art is a private endeavor.

The new sculpture located in the front yard of a home located on the corner of Washington and Fifth streets in Eagle is a prime example.

What was once a towering, dead spruce tree is now a two story tall sculpture that has attracted attention of Eagle residents and visitors. With an intricately carved owl perched at the top and a panel of hollyhocks featured on one side, the public has had the pleasure of watching the sculpture unfold this summer.

It's tempting to call it a totem pole, but that really isn't an accurate description of the piece. The sculpture, which combines clean modern lines, intricate hand chiseling and a bit of whimsy, resulted from the collaboration of homeowner Tracie Schumacher and master woodworker Luis Uribe.

Years in the making

In a sense, the sculpture was six years in the making. That's when Schumacher purchased her home — which dates back to 1897 — and launched a massive renovation project. The owner of Studio 80 Interior Architecture and Design, Schumacher knew she had the ability to make her home project something special, but like any renovation, the project has had is share of challenges. One of the biggest was what to do about the large, dead spruce out front.

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"One of the first things I did was take that tree down to a stump," Schumacher said. At that point, serendipity intervened. Schumacher's daughter Adie had a friend named Emma Uribe. When Emma's dad spotted the tall tree stump in Schumacher's front yard, he saw an opportunity.

"He came to me and said when I was ready to carve that tree, he would like to be the carver," Schumacher said. "Years and years went by and finally this summer, I was ready."

Master craftsman

Uribe has operated Sawhorse Construction, an Edwards-based high-end carpentry firm, for 18 years. His first woodworking teacher was his dad.

"My father didn't have too many tools, so when I was little, it was his human clamp," said Uribe. He eventually learned the trade and developed his own wood craftsmanship skills.

While he enjoys many facets of woodworking, Uribe said that carving is his passion. That's why he was so enthused about taking on Schumacher's project. But once he arrived on the job with his chainsaw and chisels, he admits it was a bit daunting.

"After you see all these people driving by, I was really nervous," he said.

Blended styles

Schumacher knew she wanted a modern piece that combined clean lines with some curving elements. Uribe said the first challenge was to center the work correctly.

"I took a lot of time to make sure it was plumb and would look right," he said.

Because it was a side job, Uribe worked weekends on the sculpture.

"During Yoga in the Park, we had the chainsaw going off," Schumacher said. Luckily the people at the park understood, partly because they were intrigued by Uribe's work.

Uribe figures he put 90 hours into the sculpture. "I am glad it took that long. It gave us time to think and modify it."

Schumacher agreed, saying the finished piece represents a successful collaboration. While there was a lot of planning involved with the bulk of the sculpture, the crowning piece was a special surprise from Uribe. He decided to carve the owl at the top, inspired by a bird he kept hearing in the neighborhood. He also figured if it didn't fit with Schumacher's aesthetic, he could lop it off.

"I was out of town and I came home and there was an owl at the top of the pole," she said. "It was a perfect fit."

Schumacher noted the barn owl and hollyhock carvings are homage to her home's history and to the early days of Eagle. Having the finished sculpture is the final touch in her years long renovation.

"I can't believe we are to this point we are talking about it and we are done," Schumacher said. "It couldn't have turned out better."