The Golden Ridge Condos off Heritage Road and Highway 6 has had the reputation of being a rundown complex. Built in 1974, the condos became worn-out along with the surrounding property.
But when Don Marion took over as property manager in 2004, he saw to it that units were upgraded, and the landscape was made over. Along the way, trees needed to be removed, so Marion came up with a novel idea to keep the trees while still landscaping the property. He contacted local tree carver and sculpture Lueb Popoff about carving an old tree outside the club house. Marion then used the city’s neighborhood grant program which matched him $2,500 to help fund the tree carving.
Now, a family of foxes carved from a once dying tree stands outside the club house. Around April of this year, Marion went back to Popoff after he discovered two cottonwoods that were dying.
After a month of stripping, carving, priming and waiting out rainstorms; Popoff completed his tree carvings which stand 10 feet and 11 feet tall, positioned south of heritage road, just to the right on Golden Ridge Road.
The final artwork is in two pieces, with one tree holding a mother Golden eagle and her chicks, and the other tree showing two climbing black bear cubs, with one cub showing an interest in the Golden eagles.
“Part of it was doing an interactive thing rather than two separate carvings that did not have a relation to each other,” Lueb Popoff said about the project. “This is a way to honor the tree and kind of breathe new life into it.”
Drivers on Golden Ridge Road will be able to view the finished pieces, which add to the area’s growing development, Marion said. The climbing bears fit in perfectly with the new climbing facility that is being built near the condos, and the eagles which are native to the area also fit well for the Eagle Ridge subdivision located across the street.
“It adds something for the entire neighborhood,” said Marion. “Lueb is just really an amazing artist.”
Popoff’s care and attention to detail is what make his carvings remarkable. He places taxidermy eyes on the animals so they look almost life-like, and adds texture to the carved pieces with the use of feathers and talons. The aspen nest for the baby eagle chicks was handmade; carved and cut from laminated bass wood, and then epoxied in.
Like most things, the carvings will not last forever. Eventually, the tree will decay from the inside out and will die, but the carvings will be around for the next 10 to 15 years, Popoff said.
“When someone walks up our walk and sees this, they can tell the people who live here take pride in where they live,” Marion said. “They take care of where they live and that rubs off on the people who live here to take pride and take care of what they have.”