Hurricane Ike Tree Sculptures
In 2008, Galveston was ravaged by Hurricane Ike. Thousands of old growth trees on the island were destroyed, uprooted by the wind and rain, and poisoned by salt water. Some 35,000 trees were lost in the storm and its aftermath. Since then, local artists have used Mother Nature’s fury as part of a new expression. Dozens of the dead trees left standing have been carved into whimsical sculptures.
Towering oaks have new life as angels, mermaids and animals. Historical devastation never looked so monumental. Other tree sculptures feature dolphins, pelicans, sea turtles and detailed portraits of gods and goddesses. Some pieces have local significance. For example, there’s a carving of Toto and the Tin Man from the “Wizard of Oz” outside the house at Winnie and 17th Streets, a nod to King Vidor, the secondary director of the film who was born at that house. Another sculpture, outside a bed-and-breakfast cum rescue bunny sanctuary at 17th and Postoffice Streets, features an angel cradling a bunny.
Galveston City Hall now features two of these sculptures–a Dalmatian and a fire hydrant created by local artist Jim Phillips. He’s also done the live oak version of “Venus on a Half Shell.” Another standout is an homage to Galveston’s native wildlife by local artist Dayle Lewis. This sculpted live oak has new life featuring elaborate relief carvings of plants and small animals around the trunk and 17 birds taking flight in the branches above.
This sculpture is located on Sealy Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets. Another by the same artist is located behind the Mosquito Cafe–a local favorite–and features a detailed carving of three pelicans and a fish. But many of the most elaborate art pieces are nestled between classic Victorian houses, hidden in manicured gardens, off the main streets of the East End Historical District. If you want to experience the best of these, you’ll need to ask a local. Or better still–find a taxi service that specializes in private tours. Brochure guides are also available from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.