Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 14, 2014

Raccoons in their forever hiding place

By Patricia Freed
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — Roger A. Bleim's sculpture, titled "Hiding Place," started out as a nine-foot tall tree stump that was waiting for artistic transformation. Camilla Emerson, multi-media artist and member of the Art Guild at Fairfield Glade, saw potential for the oak stump to take a lead role in the guild's developing Sculpture Trail.

Opportunity struck when fellow artist and professional sculptor Roger Bleim visited the Glade. Emerson and her husband, Jim, brought Bleim to look at the newly formed Sculpture Trail and the very old tree trunk that stood tall, centered on the lawn beside the Plateau Creative Arts Center.

"Can you do something with it?" asked Emerson, and that was the genesis of "Hiding Place."

Bleim currently lives in Florida, but he learned that the raccoon is the official wild animal for the state of Tennessee. Back in Florida, Bleim sculpted the upper bodies of the three raccoons out of wood, brought them up to the Glade, did some final painting and adjustments, and with his good friends, the Emersons, prepared to install them in the tree stump. Old oak is extremely hard and was difficult to drill, but they persevered and were ultimately successful. Now the three raccons peer out of the tree, looking very natural as they guard the head of the Sculpture Trail.

Though he was a steel processing plant owner in Ohio, Bleim has sculpted with wood throughout his adult life. Back when lightning struck a tree on the Emersons' property in Michigan, Roger sculpted a bear out of the remaining eight-foot tree trunk and named it Thor. He has done several commissioned sculptures including one for a golf course.

Visit the Sculpture Trail and see Bleim's raccoons hiding in the oak tree.

The Art Guild's handicapped accessible Sculpture Trail is located near Druid Hills next to the Plateau Creative Arts Center. This scenic Sculpture Trail is an offshoot of the paved central trail that travels north-south under Peavine Rd. For more information about the Art Guild's classes, display gallery or Sculpture Trail, visit the Plateau Creative Arts Center, 451 Lakeview Dr. (off Peavine Rd.) or call 707-7249. To make a donation toward future sculptures on the trail, contact co-presidents Sara Flohr or Barb Rogers at the Art Guild.