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Great Falls man uses chainsaw to create fish art for Paris Gibson Square

Tom Dean
Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 29, 2022

GREAT FALLS — Montana fish don’t normally grow to six feet long. The one Tom Dean is creating is the biggest one he’s seen in person. It’s made entirely out of wood and was carved using a chainsaw.

If you visited the Home & Garden Show over the weekend, you might have noticed the chainsaw-wielding artist cutting wood. That was Dean, being sponsored by North 40 Outfitters, who noted that lumber for the project was donated by Johnson Madison and sealer was donated by Schmidt's Auto Body.

Dean's latest project is a six-foot long trout made entirely by hand. It’s not the hand tool Tom is used to having on him, but he enjoys it and says he wants to do it again.

“It was challenging. Carving with a chainsaw is completely different than what I use. You have your ear protection on. You kind of focus strictly on the fish and kind of blank out everything else,” Dean said. “What was really enjoying for me is to see these little kids at the Home and Garden Show and wave at them and they’d smile. So that was a lot of fun.”

Dean said all the wood was donated. It weighed about 300 pounds before it had metal teeth cut it down. He trimmed about 150 pounds off and he’s not done yet.

The big fish will be donated to the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art for them to display another local artist’s work in their venue.

The fish is in its final stage of getting ready to be displayed outside the museum. The Square staff are all excited to welcome their fishy friend and get it painted and ready to show the public.

Sarah Justice, director of the museum, said the fish will be outside in their sculpture garden where she thinks many people will enjoy it.

“Tom came in and shared this project. He felt it would be a good piece for the museum. And he knows we have this beautiful lawn and sculpture garden that we’re wanting to expand on,” Justice said. “I think it’ll be a draw to people that come in whether they come from out of state to the museum or it’s just local community members. I think they’ll get a lot out of it.”

Dean expects to complete the project in about two or three months. Click here to visit Dean's website.


SALMON by Tom Dean