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Carving creates a stir

A passerby takes a glance at an unfinished rendition of Michelangelo's David, carved during last week's Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Sculpting Championship in Reedsport. Reedsport Antiques owner Christopher Damitio bought the carving and is currently displaying it outside his downtown shop, but he must get the city's permission to allow it to remain on the sidewalk.

REEDSPORT — Art? Or something else?

A new chainsaw carving of the classic David appeared in Reedsport's downtown and is generating some controversy.

The carving was started by Mark Nelson, of Roseville, Calif., who participated in the 16th Annual Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Sculpting Championship in Reedsport on Father's Day weekend.

After the competition, Christopher “Vago” Damitio, owner of Reedsport Antiques and Reedsport.info, bought the unfinished carving and moved it in front of his shop.

“I think it's beautiful,” he explained. “I think one of the most beautiful things about it is the fact that Michelangelo struggled for three years on David. It became the icon of Florence, Italy.

“The fact that a chainsaw carver would even take on that task to begin with ... I think he captured it, perfectly for as far as (the carver) got.”

The carving has generated some concern since the statue is nude. The carving's back faces state Highway 38 in downtown Reedsport. The front, facing the sidewalk, features a fig leaf.

“There are a few people who contacted me,” Damitio said. “To be fair, they didn't know it was David. They thought it was just some naked statue. They were offended there was a naked bum and, potentially, the other side — the other side is covered by a fig leaf.”

There's a problem. The city requires carving placements in the downtown area to go through a siting process.

City Manager Jonathan Wright said Damitio has to start with the city's Parks and Beautification Committee.

“I said, 'I'll get you on the agenda for the next meeting,'” he said. “They are the citizen review panel. Their input is solicited by the council to see if they think it fits within the scope of the community within the downtown.”

Damitio said he has no problem with following the process.

“I'm happy to go through the process,” he said. “I think the Parks and Beautification Committee is a wonderful organization. I love what they do for our town.

“Are they going to think that it fits the vision of the community? I don't know. That's up to them.”

Wright said he has no plans to make Damitio remove the carving — for now.

“I have much bigger things going on right now with the city,” he said. “It doesn't, in my opinion, look like a health/safety issue. It's not lewd or indecent from what I can tell. So, I am not going to run out there and make him take it down.”

However, Wright said he hopes Damitio takes the step himself.

“I would hope he has the sense to take it down, himself,” Wright said. “Ultimately, he's going to have to go through the City Council.

“That is the sidewalk. That is the city right-of-way. So, without going through the proper process ... I think that may put him at odds against some of the council members.”

Damitio said the carving will stay.

“I don't have any plans to take it down,” he said. “Nobody's even asked me to take it down, yet.”

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