Public Art, Your Art: The Hudson Rail Trail Animals
By Jim Piotrowski, Contributing Writer
Hudson – If you’ve visited the Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT) in downtown Hudson recently, you probably couldn’t help but notice the four “Rail Trail Animals” that stand a short distance from the parking lot at 417 Main St. The four pine carvings are of a hawk, a frog, a fish and a rabbit, and they are an amusing welcome to the many bikers, walkers and skateboarders that use the trail.
However, according to Steven Santos of the Hudson Department of Recreation, they were originally meant for a very different purpose. Years ago, a Boy Scout asked permission to mark the sections of the Rail Trail, so that if someone using it needed to call for assistance, they could identify where they were (i.e. on the Frog Trail.) So the Department of Recreation, working with the Arts Alliance and Hudson Public Schools, challenged students to identify six animals indigenous to the region. The frog, hawk, fish, and rabbit were among the six identified. Using grant funds and donations from local businesses, the Department of Recreation then marked the entire trail, identifying each section with its corresponding animal. You may notice the animals painted along the center of the trail.
Once identified, the town commissioned “The Machine” Jesse Green, a chainsaw artist who lives in Medway and creates one of the new sculptures every year during the annual Kiwanis Hudson Pumpkin Fest. He puts on a great show for those that attend the event.
On a recent phone call, Green explained that he has been sculpting with chainsaws for 17 years. At approximately 6 feet tall, each statue is unique and Green takes a full day at the festival to create it. The original thought was to place each of these carvings on their respective sections of the trail, but placing them along Main Street has made them more visible. The hawk was placed in the fall of 2012; the other three were placed in the spring of 2013.
The carvings are expected to stay for many years to come. Visitors should expect to see a new addition to the group after this October’s Pumpkin Fest. As for which animal it will be, we will just have to wait and see.
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