Loss of tree an opportunity for art at Comox home

Norene Wells knows how to make the best out of a bad situation.

CARVER KEVIN LEWIS along with his partner Angela Kroeker display their completed work for homeowner Norene Wells on the front of her Noel Avenue home.

CARVER KEVIN LEWIS along with his partner Angela Kroeker display their completed work for homeowner Norene Wells on the front of her Noel Avenue home.

Norene Wells knows how to make the best out of a bad situation.When the Comox resident’s large tree had to be cut down in front of her Noel Avenue home, she decided to save about 20 feet of the trunk, and transform it into a piece of art.Wells called upon local carver Kevin Lewis and his partner Angela Kroeker to carve a mermaid holding a seal in the trunk, which is now catching the eye of not only the homeowner, but residents as well.”When Kevin was carving the tree, it was causing a traffic jam,” said Wells with a laugh. “People are always walking by and looking at it. The other day I was watching some school kids standing nearby and saying it was an ‘awesome mermaid.’ “She explained the 90-foot tree was diseased and rather than cutting it down and removing the roots, she wanted to use the tree to add to and complement her home. “My house has a Mediterranean-type vibe, and living in Comox, I wanted to marry a maritime theme together. I also speak French and Spanish, and wanted to tie a European with a seaside feel,” Wells added.After a quick Google search for local carvers, she asked Lewis to bring her design to life.”I treat (the piece) like a tattoo — you and always add more,” said the self-taught carver, who generally specializes in creating mythical creatures. “I really like working with the owner because it pushes my skill level out of my comfort zone to work with what they want.”Lewis said he worked on the piece about three to four hours each day, and finished the carving with deck coat and a UV protectant. He added an oil-base stain to certain areas to bring out depth said it is one of the most unique pieces he has completed.”You don’t get a chance to do too many pieces like that,” he noted, and added despite the tree being diseased, the carving will hold up well. “If you treat (the piece) like a deck, it has very low maintenance and will definitely outlast our lifetime,” he explained.Although the prominent piece is catching the eye of passersby, it is not the first carving Wells had commissioned on her property.Prior to the mermaid, she had asked Lewis to transform a stump on the east side of her property.Rather than dig up the stump, she now has two mermaids on each side, which Wells said represents each of her granddaughters. For more information on Lewis’ carvings, visit his outdoor gallery at 4010 Forbidden Plateau Road, or his website at www.kevinlewiscarvings.ca.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com