Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Art · The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison
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The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison

Rick Coates - October 26th, 2009
The Lord of the Gourd
Pat Harrison is a professional pumpkin sculptor

By Rick Coates 10/26/09

Carver Pat Harrison from Cedar is nicknamed “The Lord of the Gourd.” This time of the year he finds himself in high demand. But Harrison is more than just a pumpkin carver; hence his nickname. He is now known all over the state and travels to all parts giving carving demonstrations. He took time from his busy schedule to answer questions about life as a professional pumpkin sculptor.

NE: How did you get started?
Harrison: By accident. I was attempting to carve a pumpkin late at night back in the mid ’90s and I slipped with a knife and cut a hunk off the pumpkin. I thought it was ruined until I started hacking more chunks off it and realized I was onto something.”

NE: So had you seen other pumpkin carvers before?
Harrison: Not up to that point. I had never seen anyone else carve that way, but now there are many pumpkin sculptors out there, some of them incredibly talented.

NE: Who up north do you put in that category?
Harrison: In this area we have Ed Moody from Frankfort who does giant pumpkins, and Ray Villafane from Bellaire is hands-down the most talented of all carvers I’ve ever seen. Downstate there’s Tom Nardone of extremepumpkins.com and Douglas St. Souver, both incredibly talented guys. I consider myself very fortunate to be counted amongst them as pumpkin sculptors.

NE: So is it competitive?
Harrison: None of us are rivals; we’re just guys who share a love for carving. It’s funny that when I tell people up here what I do, they say ‘you’re that guy who does the big pumpkins,’ and I say ‘no, that’s Ed Moody’, and then they say ‘oh, you’re the guy that sculpts sand and won the Food Network Challenge’, and I say ‘no, that’s Ray’. It’s hard being the new guy, but I’m developing a following up here.”

NE: Okay, you said you started carving by accident, but how did you start carving professionally?
Harrison: I got my start in Oakland County living in Ortonville. I stopped at a pumpkin farm one day and my then girlfriend told the farmer I sculpted pumpkins. He asked me to do one for him and once he saw my work offered me a deal: if I’d sit at his pumpkin farm and carve as an attraction on weekends in October, he’d give me all the free pumpkins I wanted and also allow me to sell them. I never thought anything would come of it, but the Oakland Press came out to do a story one day on the farm, and saw me there and ended up putting me in the paper. Then WDIV in Detroit asked me to carve live on their station on Halloween, and I did that three years in a row. Things snowballed after that and here, 10 years later, I’m doing it full time and having a ball.

NE: Are you the same Pat Harrison who plays music around the area?
Harrison: Yes, I am a folk and blues harmonica performer; so between music and carving I’m living the dream.

NE: So after Halloween and pumpkin season ends do you carve anything else?
Harrison: I carve fruit and vegetables.My big thing after Halloween is carvings that can be cooked and eaten, and I’ll be doing hubbard squash turkeys for Thanksgiving and Santa Clauses for Christmas. My theory is that as long as I work with food, I’ll never be a starving artist, and I tell kids that it’s not just OK to play with their food, I highly recommend that they do.

NE: You are pretty popular at kids events not just for your carvings but your storytelling.
Harrison: I live in a berm house, meaning that two-thirds of it is underground and we call it the cave. I paint a pretty vivid picture in children’s minds when I tell them I live in a cave in the north woods and carve pumpkins for a living and sit on the roof at night listening to coyotes. When you sit on my roof you’re sitting in the yard. I live between Maple City and Glen Arbor and share a home with my mother Sally, who is also an artist and a live-in guinea pig for many of my cooking experiments.

NE: So describe a typical day for a pumpkin carver.
Harrison You don’t really grow up planning to be a pumpkin sculptor, it just happened that way. I get to travel to different places and meet new people every day and I absolutely love my life. A typical day for me consists of rising after four hours of sleep, and while getting dressed I watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ every day! It gets me in the mood. Then I make coffee and pack for the next show. Some of them are up to 250 miles away. My day consists of making my appearance that day wherever I’m carving, packing up, and heading for the next show. I always show up at a new gig with two fresh pre-carved pumpkins, so that means I either return home or go to my motel and carve until the wee hours of the morning. I have been going nonstop for the past two months and have already easily carved over 300 pumpkins. It’s a crazy schedule and I had bookings 23 of the first 26 days of October, but I’m up to the task and spend all year waiting for pumpkin season to return.

To contact Pat Harrison call 231-228-7355.

 
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