BRIAN QUINN/DAILY NEWSJeff Loucks makes cuts on the tree that he is turning into an abstract totem.

ATTICA — Individual Artist Award recipient Jeff Loucks is spending the next few days carving out an art piece along Maplewood Road.

Loucks, who received a $1,500 grant with help from the Arts Council for Wyoming County (ACWC), just began carving a maple tree into an abstract totem Saturday near 11250 Maplewood.

“I just started that this morning,” said Loucks, who took a break from making cuts on the tree with a chain saw. “It’s a slow process, but it should be done in about a week. It’s five days, 10 hours a day, 10,000 brush strokes with my chain saw later.”

Loucks said he showed the ACWC a photo of another tree he carved into an art piece.

“I submitted a proposal that I carve a 15- to 20-foot-tall totem and submitted a picture. Based on that, they liked what they saw and I got the grant,” Loucks said. “After I get done carving it, I burn it with a torch. It’s an ancient Japanese technique to preserve the wood.”

The artist said the wood on a maple tree is harder than that of a hemlock pine, which he used to do his last project.

“Sculpting and carving is the whole process — sculpt, shape, carve,” he said. “This particular tree was struck by lightning. It just makes it more difficult to carve.”

Loucks said the award was originally supposed to be issued in December but was postponed until April due to COVID-19. He said he and other award recipients took part in a virtual awards ceremony this spring with the Arts Council.

Loucks said John Goodridge, who owns the property where he was working Saturday, had planted 135 maple trees to enhance the neighborhood.

“I’m going to enhance the neighborhood further with a totem that people can enjoy for generations to come. It’s nobody’s tree. It’s a public piece of art.”

Jeff’s wife, Mary Alice Loucks said they’ve done some art shows. Jeff started out making smaller sculptures.

“We weren’t able to do anything this year or last year because of COVID,” she said.

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