These Santa Claus ornaments were carved and painted by local artisan Louie Ash.
by Mary Kerns
for Burns Times-Herald
This week’s Artist Behind the Art is wood sculpture Louie Ash.
A Harney County native, Ash was born at the old hospital on Egan Street in Burns.
His family had a ranch in Frenchglen, which is where Ash attended grade school. He rode his horse five miles to and from class each school day.
Ash’s family summered their cattle in the Big and Little Indian gorges on Steens Mountain and lived at the Riddle Ranch. Time alone in these vast spaces prompted a habit of carving wood. Ash has continued this hobby/art form for more than 50 years, and he still has the first wooden sculpture that he carved — a bowlegged cowboy, naturally.
Not one to take the easy route, Ash works primarily with juniper and sagebrush. He has several creations for sale at Spark Collaborative Studio in downtown Burns. His work includes a hinged jewelry box, drawer pulls, salt and pepper shakers with a little tooth pick holder, and picture frames in various sizes, which are all made from juniper and sagebrush. The Christmas tree at Spark Collaborative displays sweet, little Santa Claus and birdhouse ornaments that were made by Ash. He has also repurposed horseshoes into picture frames.
Ash is 90 years old and still creating. We wish him well and are happy that we can still enjoy his homegrown craft in Harney County.
Located at 341 N. Broadway in Burns, Spark Collaborative Studio is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day this week until Christmas.