York County chainsaw artist about Harley carving: ‘I had an inspiration for the bike and America’

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Conewago Township (Pa.) chainsaw artist Brad Heilman carved a sculpture of a Harley-Davidson bike out of a 15-foot-tall pin oak trunk near J & J Cycle Barn, visible from Interstate 83 north of York. Here, Joe Sciarrabba, owner of the cycle shop, tidies up after the carving. (See another chainsaw sculpture below.) Other posts of interest: York, Pa. made big, heavy things – and was immensely proud of it and AMF-Harley in York, by the numbers and AMP’s and AMF’s alphabet soup spilled in same York County town .

Chainsaw art pieces carved from trees are growing in popularity around York County.
The newest comes from Brad Heilman, perhaps the most prolific artist. He carved a Harley-Davidson bike emerging from an oak stump visible from Interstate 83.
His work is drawing a lot of honks from passing motorists.
Whether history will bless this form of art as the years pass remains to be seen… .


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Brad Heilman, carver of the Harley statue, works to finish a chainsaw carving of a bear in the front yard of his Conewago Township home.
Will the carvings eventually run the course of the trees they have emerged from, falling surrender to disease and age?
In this respect, they would emulate the Murals of York, which were never designed for permanency.
But for now, the Harley carving is art with a distinct purpose.
As Harley is deliberating on a decision to move assembly operations from its Springettsbury Township plant to a facility elsewhere, Heilman’s art serves as a reminder that the bikes have firm roots in the York County community. (Harley later decided to stay in York.)
“I had an inspiration for the bike and America,” Heilman told the York Daily Record/Sunday News (9/22/09). “A lot of people work (at Harley-Davidson), and they take pride in what they do.”
Here’s how that story began:

— Corporate America is snatching the livelihood from local families.
— A valued machine is best repaired by the hands of a skilled worker.
— Riding a Harley is like flying with eagles.
These are just some of the interpretations of those viewing a newly created piece of local art.
But they share a common message: Harley-Davidson belongs in York County.
Conewago Township artist Brad Heilman, owner of BDH Custom Chainsaw Carving, recently carved a sculpture out of a 15-foot tall pin oak tree trunk outside J & J Cycle Barn.
The piece depicts large hands holding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle while an eagle’s talons clutch the bike’s handlebars.

The following are posts bearing photographs of other chainsaw art around York County:
- Wago Club prez: ‘You’ve gotta respect the (snapping) turtles’.
- Church’s landmark: ‘A man named Beech carving a beech tree, it seemed too perfect’
- Ever wonder about that carved Civil War soldier standing along West Man’s Taxville Road?
- Chainsaw art along The Susquehanna Trail: ‘Greatest highway in Eastern America’
Bonus
It’s not chainsaw art, but it’s a hard work on a big piece of wood:
Missing life-size JFK statue, carved in York County, Pa., turns up on eBay
*Updated, 5/22/10.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Explanations/controversy, For photo fans, Harley-Davidson, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Made in York, Notable images, Unsung/obscure sites, Wheels of York. Bookmark the permalink.

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