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Bears! Bears! Bears! 

click to enlarge JANE MCBEE

There's a strip of Manitou Avenue, just beyond the litany of neon motel signs that beckon the weary, where few locals dare to tread. It's a fearsome stretch of road guarded by a gauntlet of grizzly, menacing shadows. It's a place known only as "Chainsaw Bear Gulch."

While most of the chainsaw bears in the gulch have a fairly prefab-looking rustic style, there is one shop that has oft caught my eye. It seems like the only place on the strip where someone is actually there, chainsaw in hand, sawdust flying and the bears standing tall with the dignity of an individual style and a refined craftsmanship.

Welcome to Bears of Manitou where "Chainsaw" Wayne Harris recently relocated his sculpture business from Panama City, Fla. when he just couldn't take any more of the humidity.

Wayne has no qualms about tooting his own horn about what sets his bears above his competitors': "I only do about two bears a day, and I know people who can do 10, but I do more detail than people like that.

Why bears? "Everyone likes bears."

How does he do it? "I just cut away everything that isn't a bear" (thanks Michelangelo).

And you might as well forget about law school baby; Wayne makes a barrister's salary in a half a year!

  • Wayne Harris, Chainsaw artist

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