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Tynan's mastery of anatomy sets him apart in carving world

February 21, 2012

Photo by Amy Cherry – Ken Tynan of Butler is shown with his roaring grizzly sculpture, which he is working on for Saturday's Rendezvous auction. Since he started his carving career 12 years ago, the self-taught sculptor has mastered both human and animal anatomy.

Although Ken Tynan of Butler makes a significant portion of his salary carving bears, his true passion lies in creating comic book and superheroes. For this year's Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous auction, Tynan has stuck with what comes naturally to him and has created a massive roaring grizzly out of white pine, weighing in at 400 pounds.
The 52-year-old Butler native drew attention in past years at the Rendezvous with his big green Hulk sculpture.
"I use to drive around town with the Hulk in the back of my truck," he said. "All my life I've drawn him (the Hulk) as a kid. I taught myself so much with that one carving. It helped with everything, including anatomy."
In the carving world Tynan is known for his ability to master the anatomy of both human and beast. Recently he was called up by the producers of the television series "Saw Dogs," shown on the Velocity channel, a subsidiary of The Discovery Channel. The show features a team of the world's top chainsaw sculptors as they battle short deadlines, tight budgets and conflicting artistic sensibilities to complete a series of commissioned carvings.
The specific project Tynan worked on involved creating a bust of former Pittsburgh Steelers punter Mitch Berger, a member of the team's 2009 Super Bowl Champion team.
He explained that three other carvers were contacted to appear on the show, each one turning down producers and referring them to Tynan for his abilities. Tynan was teamed up with Saw Dogs foreman Pete Rieger and speed carver Mark Colp to create the piece, which was completed in two and a half days in time for a restaurant opening honoring Berger.
"People think that's a fake time limit on T.V. and I would have thought that too, but it's not," Tynan said.
He added that working on the piece was a thrill to him, being a Steeler fan and growing up in the Pittsburgh area.
Tynan began carving 12 years ago on his 40th birthday. As a former billboard painter, laid off due to the increase in billboards being painted by printers rather than by hand, Tynan said he jumped into carving.
"I just went and bought a chainsaw and said I was going to be a chainsaw carver," he said. "I was a hand carver for two years, then got into chainsaw carving."
Tynan's prospective of the carving world was changed after seeing renowned carver Dennis Beach at an event in his hometown and Brian Ruth at a Masters of the Chainsaws event.
"I just always thought carving was square bears, but those guys are just so good. Then I just happen to hear about this thing (the Rendezvous) going on. That was it," he said.

Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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