A local chainsaw artist made his buzzy debut on a new reality TV show last night.
Ashton Heights native Andrew Mallon is a contestant on the Discovery competition show “A Cut Above,” in which some of the best chainsaw wood carvers in the world compete against one another.
“The competition will test contestants’ artistry, stamina, and carving skills. Each week, the carvers will compete in Quick and Master Carve challenges while racing against the clock in hopes of avoiding elimination,” reads a description of the show. “At the end of the grueling twelve-week competition, the artist who out-carves the rest will win a cash prize and be named ‘A Cut Above.'”
Top chainsaw carvers from around the world will turn wood logs into jaw-dropping art on #ACutAbove⁰⁰ 🪵🪚
🗓 Competition begins this Sunday at 10p ET on Discovery pic.twitter.com/VQ3IgzAArd
— Discovery (@Discovery) September 26, 2022
The show debuted last night at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel and, yes, Mallon did make it to the next round, so he will continue to carve in the weeks ahead.
Mallon was contacted to be on the show a few years ago, pre-Covid, by the show’s producers, he told ARLnow. They shot the show earlier this year.
Mallon is known locally for his playful tree carving in Oak Grove Park near Washington-Liberty High School as well as carvings at a number of private residences in Arlington. That includes a bear, an owl, a dragon, and a scene from Greek mythology. He first started carving about a decade ago while working as a carpenter and remodeling houses in Arlington.
“And I just started whittling on pencils. From there, I learned [how] to do it,” Mallon told ARLnow. “Then, I started whittling on some pieces of wood. But I thought that it took too long and… really wanted to do it faster. And I saw some people on tv doing it with a chainsaw and thought ‘Hey, I could do that.'”
A majority of his work is commissioned by private citizens, including many Arlington residents, who have trees that may have fallen or died in their yards. He calls these “stump jobs” and they typically take about four days to complete.
Like a lot of wood carvers, Mallon often finds himself creating “critters” that live in the area like foxes, raccoons, owls, and hawks.
“You’d be surprised by how much detail I can get with a chainsaw,” he said. “I can put hair on a horse and fur on a bear.”
Recently, he’s been doing more “abstract” carvings — a style that has been more in vogue locally.
“I take it to another level where I carve it really far with a chainsaw and then I come back with a sander and sand it really smooth. It makes a lot of my pieces really elegant,” he said. “Most of what I use are large trees… it just lends itself to a beautiful product.”
For those who want to see the newly-minted television star in action, Mallon is currently working on a carving at a private residence near the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street in his home neighborhood of Ashton Heights. He says folks are welcome to stop by to watch him work. Mallon is also in the midst of planning a potential new sculpture in Lyon Park.
For those who may want to take up the art of chainsaw wood carving, Mallon’s advice is to “just go for it.”
“Chainsaw is just another tool in the hand,” he said. “Just learn the rules of the tool and… give it a shot.”
This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.
On this week’s edition of the Neighborhood Spotlight, join Keri Shull as she gives you a tour of 5 of our favorite family-friendly playgrounds in Arlington.
Between amazing food, drinks and entertainment, there are plenty of great things to do in Arlington — and as the region begins to re-open after the COVID-19 restrictions, some people are getting ready to get out of the home and enjoy the warm weather.
Luckily, when it comes to finding fun for the whole family, we are here to help! So take a look below to learn more about 5 of our favorite parks in Arlington.
Sitting just a few steps away from the Virginia Square Metro stop, Quincy Park is one of our favorite recreational parks in all of Arlington. The beautiful park has a completely fenced-in playground and fun activities for people of all ages to enjoy.
The climbing ropes and swings are a great way for kids to let out some excess energy while having a great time. In addition to the play structure, there are also spots for organized sports in this 4-acre park, with a basketball court, 6 tennis courts, diamonds for baseball and softball, and even a sand court for volleyball!
Once you and yours have worn yourselves out from hours of fun, take some time to enjoy a picnic at one of several open-air tables or in the reservable, covered picnic pavilion.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly park that will bring you closer to nature, then look no further than Bluemont Park! This 70-acre space is as much of a nature reserve as it is a standard park, with tons of amazing options for fun activities. In addition to areas for sporting events and fitness activities, Bluemont features a fenced-in playground space that is designed for school-aged children.
Unlike many other recreational spaces, Bluemont Park has an enormous parking area and public bathroom facilities, which is a big plus when trying to decide where to take friends and family for a day of fun.
Thanks to the gorgeous, nature reserve-esque atmosphere and wide open spaces, Bluemont Park is a great place for people of all ages to get some exercise and fresh air.
Chestnut Hills Park
Who ever said that kids can’t learn and play at the same time? At Chestnut Hills, a 4.5-acre park in North Arlington, education and recreation are blended into a single, fun experience!
This is one of our favorite spots to play in Arlington, because it has areas for both younger and older kids and is completely fenced-in for maximum peace-of-mind. Keep in mind, however, that there is no off-street parking at this spot, and there are no public restrooms available.
As the days get hotter, there’s no better way to spend a sunny day than in the shade of Chestnut Hills Park — make sure to check it out!
Memorial Day Closures — Arlington County offices, courts, schools, community centers and other facilities will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Metro, meanwhile, will operate on a Sunday schedule on Monday. [Arlington County, WMATA]
Spraygrounds Opening Today — Arlington’s spraygrounds will open for the summer today. The water play areas are located at Drew Park, Hayes Park, Lyon Village Park and Virginia Highlands Parks. [Arlington County]
Flags in at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Members of the Old Guard from Ft. Myer completed their annual “flags-in” pre-Memorial Day tradition of placing a flag at every grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. [Stars & Stripes]
Arlington Has Most Expensive Home Ever in D.C. Area — The priciest residential property ever to be listed in the D.C. area is partially located in Arlington. The Falls, the riverfront estate of late AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey, is on the market for $62.95 million. The 3.2 acre property on Chain Bridge Road straddles the Arlington-Fairfax line and includes an original Frank Lloyd Wright home as its guest house. [Preservation Arlington, UrbanTurf, Wall Street Journal]
County Hires New Assistant County Manager — Updated at 11:15 a.m. — Arlington County hired attorney Gurjit Chima to be the county’s Assistant County Manager for Human Rights and EEO. “[Chima] will be instrumental in advancing human rights and related initiatives across County government and in the Arlington community, consistent with our mission of diversity and inclusion,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Clarendon Company Named a Best Workplace in U.S. — Clarendon-based Enterprise Knowledge has made an Inc. magazine list of the Best Workplaces in 2018. The management consultancy has some of the “coolest company perks,” according to the magazine, including “tuition help, gym memberships, and company cellphones.” It also “reimburses employees up to $3,000 for the purchase of a hybrid car.” [Inc., Enterprise Knowledge]
County Touts Oak Grove Park Upgrades — “Through a Neighborhood Conservation project, Oak Grove Park recently underwent some major improvements to its playground equipment… The updates to the park include a ‘tot lot’ and a play area for older kids, an improved picnic shelter, site furnishings, a water fountain, many new trees, and biorentention for stormwater management.” [Arlington County, YouTube]
Marymount Farmers Market Starts This Weekend — The Marymount Farmers Market will kick off Saturday, serving the university and nearby North Arlington neighborhoods. The market will take place weekly through November. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
The County Board is set to consider formally changing Oakgrove Park’s name to Oak Grove Park, after Cherrydale residents fought to resurrect the park’s older spelling.
Arlington’s Park and Recreation Commission and the County Manager’s office is recommending the naming clarification, which Harry Specter, a Cherrydale resident who argued in favor of the change, called “a typographical error that was never corrected.”
Per a County Board agenda item, the park was created at the same time that I-66 was in the 1970s. At the time, the park was known by the two word “Oak Grove” Park.
At some point in the 1990s, signage was installed that seems to have mischaracterized the park’s name, omitting the space and calling it “Oakgrove Park.”
The agenda item stated that staff had “not found an official record of a formal park naming process for either the two-word spelling or the one-word spelling” of the park.
However, there has been some inconsistency in how the park was referred to in planning documents, according to the agenda item:
The current Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP) from 2005 details this park as “Oakgrove” Park. The current General Land Use Plan (GLUP) (2011) and previous versions have identified this park as “Oak Grove” Park. Other County Board adopted documents which characterize this park as “Oak Grove” Park include the Cherrydale Neighborhood Conservation Plan (originally adopted in 1987 with updates in 2005 and 2014) and the Lee Highway-Cherrydale Revitalization Plan (1994).
The Oakgrove Park playground improvements project, slated to wrap up this May, already included “two new metal panels (custom entrance sign)” that would “be installed and will cost about $550 each (approximately $1,100 total)” in the plan.
The “new” name will be on the new signs, so no dedicated costs will be incurred regarding the park’s formal renaming.
When a grand old oak tree died just prior to construction on an improvement project at Oakgrove Park, landscape architect Kathy von Bredow knew what she had to do.
She got in touch with prolific chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon, who’s responsible for a number of intriguing tree sculptures around Arlington, and asked him to do his magic. Now, as seen in the video above, that tree is a whimsical carving of forest animals having fun around a little house.
The carving is now a centerpiece at Oakgrove Park — or is it Oak Grove Park? — that all can enjoy. Other upgrades to the park include a new tot lot, play equipment for school-age children, picnic shelter and site furnishings.
Video via Arlington County
Cherrydale residents are seeking to reclaim the original spelling of a neighborhood park as it goes through a second phase of renovations.
In a presentation at an Arlington Parks and Recreation Commission meeting yesterday (Tuesday), neighborhood resident Harry Spector said he wanted to clarify the spelling of Oak Grove Park as two words and not one word.
There are three signs currently in the park that spell it as Oakgrove. However, the original sign in the park spells it as Oak Grove.
“With this being the oldest sign at the park, it’s clear to us that this was the county’s original intended spelling of the park,” Spector said.
Though the Oakgrove spelling is cited in the county’s Parks and Recreation master plan, Spector said there is no record the county intended to change the spelling.
“It’s a typographical error that was never corrected,” he said.
Other official documents since the 1990s that required county approval have also used the two-word spelling, Spector said.
While it seems the change could be made administratively, Spector said he was directed to the Parks and Recreation Commission by county staff, as there is a two-part process for renaming parks. The commission makes recommendations to the Arlington County Board, which has the final say on approval.
“It’s a little time consuming to correct a typo, but it’s probably the only way to do it,” said David Howell, a commission member.
Spector was hoping to fast-track the change, since the county acknowledges the park as Oak Grove while the department references it as Oakgrove. He said he wants the change to happen before the park’s renovation is complete, sometime between February and May.
The renovations include a new playground for 2-5 year-olds and 5-12 year-olds. There will also be new benches and a new gazebo with picnic tables.
All the members of the committee agreed with Cherrydale residents that the name should be changed, and will be holding another meeting on the protocol of name changing and will include another motion to move forward the spelling of the park.
“It’s kind of absurd to have go through such a process for a simple, obvious grammatical error,” Spector said.
Photos via Google Maps
Park Upgrades Approved — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Board approved contracts that will “upgrade the playgrounds and picnic shelter at Oakgrove Park and add a restroom/picnic pavilion and futsal court at Tyrol Hills Park.” The contracts total around $1.7 million. [Arlington County]
TJ Construction to Take Away Theater Parking — Construction of a new elementary school next to the Thomas Jefferson community center and middle school will mean a loss of parking for the community theater used by a number of local performing arts troupes. Those troupes, including The Arlington Players and Ballet Nova, will now have to decide whether to relocate to another community theater or stay and deal with the lack of parking. [InsideNova]
New Location for Children’s School Approved — Last night the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment allowing the Children’s School, a co-op child care center for Arlington Public School employees, to occupy two floors of a Ballston office building. The center is moving from an APS-owned building in Westover to make way for what’s expected to be a new elementary school. Some Ballston condominium residents expressed concerns about the child care center, primarily related to traffic; County Board member Christian Dorsey pointed out that the space it’s moving into was formerly used by a for-profit college. [Arlington County]
Ballston Profiled by WaPo — “With an array of amenities, it’s easy to see why Ballston is one of the area’s hottest markets,” says a real estate-focused profile of the neighborhood. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Renovations will begin soon at Oakgrove Park and Tyrol Hills Park if the County Board gives the go-ahead for construction contracts at its meeting on Saturday.
In recent years, the Board approved funding for the earlier phases of the Tyrol Hills Park (5101 7th Road S.) renovation project, including more than $878,000 in upgrades in 2015. The current phase — phase four — is the final one and requires Board approval for a nearly $1.6 million construction contract.
The main upgrades include installing a new unisex bathroom, adding another picnic shelter and converting a sand volleyball court into a futsal court. The new court was an idea that came up during community outreach. The scope of work also includes stormwater management improvements, site furnishings, a paved plaza and landscaping.
If approved, construction on the phase four upgrades is expected to start before fall and should take about nine months.
The Board also is expected to approve the $795,000 construction contract for renovating Oakgrove Park (1606 N. Quincy Street). This is the second phase of upgrades for that park; the grass field and track renovations were completed in 2015.
This phase focuses on replacing the existing tot lot and adding play equipment for school-age children. Other improvements including replacing the picnic shelter, adding site furnishings, improving accessibility and improving stormwater management.
If approved, construction at Oakgrove Park is expected to start by the summer and last for about four months.