Arlington’s own chainsaw art competitor has completed his latest carving.
Local chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon recently unveiled his newest work of art on the front lawn of a home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.
The work, near the intersection of Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street, is entitled “Sunshine and Moonlight — The Oak at Pershing and Monroe.” It depicts a rising sun and moon with an Art Deco motif.
“It came out to be sort of a stately, subdued representation,” Jim Roberts, who commissioned Mallon to do the piece for his home that he’s lived in for 44 years, told ARLnow. “It’s just a beautiful piece of artwork.”
Mallon can currently be seen on the Discovery reality TV competition show “A Cut Above,” going against some of the world’s best chainsaw artists. He has made it through the first five weeks and even won a wood bug carving event that aired earlier in October. The next episode airs on Sunday. The entire competition series is 12 weeks, so more than half of the episodes remain.
While Mallon is chainsawing wood every week for a national audience, this particular project was extra special for him. That’s because he grew up in the Ashton Heights neighborhood and has known the Roberts family for decades.
“We knew him when he was a seven or eight-year-old and on the [Fort Myer] swim team with our girls. At the time, he sorta viewed Andrew as family,” said Roberts. “This was our opportunity to give him a chance to show off his artwork.”
The idea came when Roberts and his wife, Marilyn, had a 12-foot oak tree in the front yard of their house that needed to be taken down due to safety reasons. While they regretted needing to take the tree down, they also saw it as an opportunity.
They contacted Mallon and collaborated with him to come up with the concept of “Sunshine and Moonlight.” For the artist, as well, this project held additional meaning.
“It’s always a pleasure doing for people I know. Any time, I get to be back in my hometown neighborhood, it’s just a blessing,” Mallon told ARLnow. “To be able to fill that neighborhood with my work where I grew up and used to run around and play, it really means a lot to me.”
It took him about five days of work to complete the carving and, for a lot of it, he had an audience. People came “dozens at a time,” said Roberts, to watch the artist work. Both Mallon and Roberts didn’t mind it, though. It gave the homeowner a chance to meet and catch up with neighbors, while Mallon says he’s used to it and “really enjoys” a crowd.
“It brought the neighborhood together,” said Roberts.
Roberts loved watching the artist work as well, particularly when he got into carving the sun’s and moon’s details. But he did worry about the noise and mess.
“It was extremely loud and I had to apologize to my neighbors,” he said. “But they understood and appreciated [the artwork].”
There was also a lot of sawdust and the couple had to hire a landscaper to remove “hundreds of pounds” of sawdust and wood.
But the final product came out great, according to everyone. Roberts calls the work a “masterpiece” and a “tribute to the neighborhood.” Mallon said he thought it turned out “spectacular.”
As for Mallon’s run on “A Cut Above,” he can’t share much due to the show still being in the middle of the competition series. He did say that one of the biggest challenges was quickly coming up with something unique and creative for each competition. When he’s working on an individual project, there’s often more time to work through a design and not the added pressure of needing to finish in a set period of time.
Also, being away from home was tough. He has young children and most of his work is in the region, so it’s rare he has to be away from home for long. Mallon does recommend to keep watching the show because it “has some twists to it.”
Roberts hopes that “Sunshine and Moonlight” become an Ashton Heights landmark and part of his legacy — as well as Mallon’s.
Said Roberts, “We wanted it to be something that he could be proud of and something that he would want all of his neighbors, former neighbors, and everybody to see.”
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