Finding the Green Man In The Wilds Of New York: Artist Interview with Wood Sculptor; Glenn Durlacher
“I used to carve ice, but wood doesn’t melt as quick,” – Glenn Durlacher Wood Sculpture Artist
“Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural.” William Cronon
In upstate New York, on the edge of the Adirondacks, lives a man who knows his way around the art and craft of wood sculpting. Glenn Durlacher has been creating masterpieces out of dead wood for decades now. He took time one day to converse with me about his family history, how he got into his craft, and why it means so much to him.
MJ: Hi Glenn! Great to spend time with you! I found your work online, and I find its size and detail incredible.
How long have you been carving wood?
Glenn: I started after working as a chef out of college in Rochester for 30 years. I started ice sculpting as part of that occupation.
MJ: This is amazing. Incredible you can get that dynamic detail out of ice. How did ice turn into wood?
One day I was on a drive to a car show in Saratoga, and I saw some artists carving bears out of wood so I pulled over. They asked me to come back and carve with them and I did. That started me on my career change over the past 20 years as a wood carver. My Aunt was a bit taken aback at my career change. I was 53 years old, but I told her, “I’m big now. I can do what I want! ” (Laughter.)
MJ: I love that. And look at you now with a sculpture garden doing mainly commissions. It’s inspiring!
How long does it take you to carve a stump or a single art piece?
Glenn: Many times I have to travel to the site, because the stumps are in the ground. I can work on one piece for anywhere from two days to two weeks or two months. It depends. Right now I’m working on an angel for a family that lost their little girl. I’ve been working on it already for a few months.
MJ: Seems you were born with this gift. What kind of wood do you prefer to carve?
Glenn: It depends. If it’s a stump I carve whatever that wood is, but I do use a lot of pine.
MJ: How do you transfer the image from a client to the wood?
Glenn: They give me a photo, or drawing or they bring an animal that’s alive (horse or dog, etc.) so I can take images of it. Most of my work is very meaningful, because each carving is unique to the person and it means a great deal to them.
MJ: I can’t think of a more meaningful heirloom than a carved piece that is the replica of a loved animal (or person,) or symbol.
I have been studying the green man for a time, and he is why I reached out to you. Your work with this particular subject is awe inspiring. From my studies, he symbolizes re-birth and renewal and is celebrated often during this time we are in now, of spring blossoms and bountiful growth despite a dark and long winter. He is noted as the masculine half of the feminine Gaia; Mother and Father Earth.
Glenn: I work very closely with the earth and Mother Nature. I won’t carve into a tree that’s alive or cut down a tree that’s alive. I will not carve driftwood either, because it is perfect as it is, as it was made. I can’t reproduce such perfection so why would I try.
I believe strongly that we are all part of nature and mother earth. I revere and honor trees and I am very careful and selective what I choose to carve.
There is a cottonwood on my land, and it is 300 years old at least. I’ve told my friends, if it goes, I go. No joke. Lol.
MJ: Thanks Glenn. Your work is a gift for all who have the chance to receive one.
Glenn specializes in custom stump carving, wildlife and pet sculptures and beam carving.
He drives or ships all over the US. Check him out on Facebook, and on his website.
If you’re in the area of Glens Falls, you can visit his sculpture garden “Glenn Tree Art” Located at 1048 State Route 9 in Queensbury, NY. [i]
Presenting the Poem The Green Man, by Joanne Kavanagh
He runs through the forest, breathing life into all he can
Whispering to the trees, he’s known as the Green Man
Passing on his vibrant energy, to all living things green
Perhaps he’s been near, but you know not what you’ve seen
Maybe the leaves have rustled spontaneously
But no breeze is present, chasing in and out of tree
This will be when he talks, to his woodland friends
Who he wholeheartedly loves, protects and defends
And tells them magical stories, that make their little leaves shiver
In delight and excitement, so that they will deliver
An abundance of new leaves, when Spring comes to the land
The time of awakening and renewal, guided by his expert hand
And if blossoms are required, on a particular tree or plant
A different song he will sing, to everything from toadstool to ant
For all have their part to play, in every green place
Their energies all needed, along with Divine grace
To create an environment, so that the right conditions abound
The flora and fauna, all lending their sounds
In a magical orchestra, of frequencies and notes
All playing the tune, which the Green Man wrote
Then come Summertime, a rainbow manifests
Painting everything in his bright colours,
from petals to birds’ eggs in their nests
And in Autumn he begins, to sing his lullabies
So the leave will fall, and dance beneath the skies
Ready for Winter, when Nature rests in slumber
And all has long since turned,
to shades of dark and umber
A chance for the Green Man, to recharge and reflect
On what new life he will breathe into next
Look beyond the surface, of the realm of the Green Man
To learn more of his work and his Fairy clan. [i]
You can find Joanne on Facebook at The Fairy Wordsmith
“I share my poems daily, often inspired by Fairy Folk, Nature, my son's Nature photography ...and the Fairy that sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear.”
In Robert Crombie’s book, “Encounters with Nature Spirits,” the author finds himself in communication with Pan, the spirit of nature. Through his life and experiences, he writes a book about his interactions with this “Green Man” of nature known as Pan. He writes, “A reconciliation between humanity and the nature world is required for the survival of the world. It is vital for the future of mankind that belief in nature spirits and their god Pan is re-established and that they are seen in their true light. In spite of the outrages humanity has committed against nature, these beings are only too pleased to help us if we will seek and ask for their cooperation.” [i]
Josephine Livingstone’s article in the New Yorker describes the long march the Green Man has had through time. He does indeed “persist,” and may be needed in our awareness now, more than ever. [ii]
 Durlacher, Glenn. “Glenn Tree Art.” Facebook, 2020, www.facebook.com/pg/glenntreeart/photos/?ref=page_internal.
 Kavanagh, Joanne. “The Fairy Wordsmith.” FAIRY WASHDAY I'll Tell You a Little... - The Fairy Wordsmith, 30 Mar. 2020, 3 pm, www.facebook.com/227587327826899/photos/a.227603041158661/635174040401557/?type=3.
 Crombie, Robert, Encounters with Nature Spirits: Co-Creating with the Elemental Kingdom, by R. Ogilvie Crombie, Findhorn Press, 2018, pp. 37–37.
 Livingstone, Josephine, et al. “The Remarkable Persistence of the Green Man.” The New Yorker, 2016, www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-remarkable-persistence-of-the-green-man.
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