If you happen to come across two wooden owls peeking out at you, or the face of a timber bobcat peering through a tree on the Cayce Riverwalk trail, then you have Wade Geddings to thank. This local artist uses a chainsaw to carve animal sculptures into the fallen cottonwood trees along the route. Walking the path, you can see an array of charming animals, including raccoons, turtles, salamanders, foxes, and of course, bobcats and owls.
Geddings’ talent was discovered when his high school art teacher, Miss Knight, encouraged the creative daydreamer to explore his gifts. Years later, when he was spending time in Colorado, Geddings was drawn to a shop that did chainsaw sculptures. He finally spoke to the owner who told Geddings he would give him a chance to try it out. He discovered that while most artists use canvas or clay, his preferred pallet is more organic. He eventually returned to South Carolina, and a year or so ago reached out to the city of Cayce about continuing his work. They were impressed, and Geddings was commissioned by Cayce’s Beautification Foundation to sculpt twelve pieces.
Geddings is able to use his imagination when examining the old fallen trees on the trail, thinking about what could be possible with some skill and creativity. With anything from Beastie Boys to Bee Gees playing on his earbuds, he deactivates the chain brake, sets the master control, and fires the engine with the starter rope. Wood chips fly all around, the shrill of the chainsaw echoes in the air, and a shape starts to take form. But, before he gets in front of a fallen tree, he studies the figure of the animal he plans to carve, particularly their heads, and practices on spare pieces of wood.
Many of the fallen trees Geddings carves with his Stihl chainsaw fell during the historic floods that heavily damaged the area in 2015. By replacing this destruction and dead wood with art, he believes some of the pain and sadness from that experience will be healed.
This self-taught artist has gained the attention of residents and visitors alike. People witnessing the process can’t help but to stop and see what will transform from what started as a fallen tree. And, those discovering the carvings on the trail can’t help but appreciate the nod to nature and the virtuosity of turning nothing into something beautiful.