News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Artist carves century-old maple as ode to music

A hundred years ago, pioneers planted a maple tree in the heart of West Linn. It grew tall and strong for a century, but this year, it had to be cut down.

The maple tree will “live on” thanks to the generosity of Sally Bany, co-founder of the Youth Music Project in West Linn, and the talents of master carver J. Chester “Skip” Armstrong of Sisters. Armstrong turned the tree into a 15-foot tall sculpture that he’s calling “Many Voices – Universal Language – Music!”

“It’s going inside at the same place where it grew,” Armstrong said. “The tree represents three genres of music that are taught at Youth Music Project: rock, pop, and country. The three muses (carved by Armstrong) represent Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul; top-selling pop and country artist Taylor Swift; and Hank Williams, the Father of Country.

The public is invited to an open house to see the massive sculpture on Sunday, Decembder 1, at Armstrong’s property, 68105 Peterson Burn Rd. in Sisters. The gathering starts at 1:30 p.m., and the official unveiling is set for 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and there will be music by Anastasia Armstrong and Joe Leonardi. The Sisters Arts Association is sponsoring the open house. Because it’s outdoors, Armstrong reminds visitors to dress for the weather of the day.

Located at 2015 8th Ave. in West Linn, Youth Music Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing outstanding rock, pop, and country music education for youth by offering tuition assistance, instrument rental, and exceptional, state-of-the-art performance opportunities. There are opportunities for group and private lessons, performance, and summer camps.

“This amazing sculpture was created by two forces of nature,” Bany said. “First Mother Nature, who created this enormous canvas over the past 100-plus years, and second, Skip Armstrong, a true force of nature! Using his amazing talented hand, skill, and incredible vision, he created this fabulous piece for the Youth Music Project.

“We were forced to remove the tree from the property due to its old age,” Bany explained. “In its lifetime, the tree has seen changes in West Linn, formerly called Robin’s Nest by early pioneers. Now you can see the lovely singing robin, high above the country branch. This maple tree (will have) a permanent music-filled joyful home.

“More than 900 students and families per week will now celebrate the roots of American music, not only through sound, but visually through this amazing carving,” Bany said. “This gift from Mother Nature and Skip will be installed in early 2020.”


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