Wednesday, May 10, 2023–8:49 p.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
The oldest tree in Myrtle Hill Cemetery could have a new lease on life by being transformed into a new piece of public art.
On Wednesday, Rome’s public works, traffic, and transit committee heard about plans to have a nationally-known artist carve a “Welcome angel” into the trunk of the tree that would otherwise have to be removed.
The tree, located at the O’Neil gravesite, which is just up from the main gates, was in bad shape, according to Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins. So, they had to take most of the limbs off. Due to the location, a crane would have to be utilized to remove the large trunk, which would cost between $6,000 and $10,000.
“One day I was looking at it with [assistant cemetery director] Jody Gonzalez, and I thought it would be cool if we had some kind of artwork there, carved with a chainsaw or something.”
Gonzalez told Jenkins that there are wood carvings like that in other cemeteries. Gonzalez then reached out to Rome Tourism Director Lisa Smith, who found an artist – Rome’s own Jeremy Smith.
Smith is a nationally known artist who has been featured on Fox 5 news, and the food network. He started with pumpkin and vegetable carvings. He moved on to small wood carving and then to masterpiece chainsaw carving. Smith, whose company is called Other Level Sculptures, also uses chalk, snow paint, and pressure washing to create art.
“We asked him what his thoughts were after he saw the tree and he gave us a conceptual,” Lisa Smith said. “He said it needed to be something that welcomed.”
It is estimated the carving will cost around $8,000.
“We want to open it up to the public to make a donation to the Myrtle Hill-Oak Hill Memorial Association,” Smith added. “Chris and I have vowed if y’all like this project, we will find a way to make it happen.”
The committee indicated that they wanted to proceed with the project.