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Wood sculptor stays with his art

"I like to create. I've always liked to create," said Kylan Hoener. Incredibly tall, with a roguish charm, Hoener is a wood sculptor, somewhat of a dying breed. Contributing to the eclectic qualities of this form, Hoener also doesn't particularly care if you ever see his work.

A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Hoener came to Ashland and Southern Oregon University in 2002 for the school's bolstered art program. But, since then, he decided to change his major to focus on engineering. He stepped away from art as an academic focus because he decided doing it as a career would strip meaning from the medium for him.

"Eventually I realized that I didn't want to major in art"&

166; because I do it for me," said Hoener. This grants Hoener a lot more latitude to take his creation in a direction free of consumer input. In that, it seems to have liberated him to indulge in a nearly metaphysical process of construction.

"I like art as a direct expression of my imagination," said Hoener. "That's where it comes from. However, with art, what's on the paper, or in a 3-D reality is not what's in your head. Once you accept that, you begin a conversation with the art piece."

This revelation came to Hoener back in high school, when he, taking a class in Native American art, came to carve his first tribal mask, a staple in Hoener's carving endeavors. "I chipped a huge chunk out of the forehead. My choices were to either scrap it or continue to work with it," said Hoener. "That's when I began to learn how to talk with the art. The art piece never ends until you decide to end it."

Hoener also has a rather practical, modest approach to the symbiotic creative process. "Art, in my mind, is not just about talent, not just about skill," said Hoener. "It's about patience."

Much of Hoener's opportunity came from a liberal upbringing in Alaska. "Fairbanks is a lot like Ashland, in respect to art," said Hoener. "Art and artists are very prevalent and prominent. There are many artists there that are old family friends, so I've had lots of positive reinforcement when it comes to artistic endeavors."

Hoener likes to look at culture art and adapt it somewhat. For example, rather than carving his interpretation of a bear, he might look at ancient carvings of bears and interpret those. Of old German descent, Hoener attributes that part of his culture with the more practical applications of wood work he also enjoys, such as creating furniture, and his explorations into engineering.

Still, within the framework of his mostly reclusive art, there has been one gemstone for Hoener. At the northern California Trees of Mystery, Hoener received his first commission; a chainsaw sculpture of the head of Paul Bunnon's obscure dog, Digger. A now-permanent fixture of the state attraction, and seen by thousands of people from around the world, the piece is certainly Hoener's most auspicious work.

"I just signed it on the bottom side," said Hoener. "I do get some anonymous, personal private glee knowing that's it's there. It was the first sculpture of that scope for me."

Hoener has no direct plans for what he hopes to accomplisg artistically in the future. It almost would defeat the Taoist nature of his creation if he did. He hopes to open a studio one day, and stay upon the carving path that helps give meaning to his life and foundation to his imagination. Hoener summed up both his walk and his art most succinctly: "You just keep going and going and you get there," said Hoener. "Eventually, it all looks pretty cool."