Monroe ‘Circle of Friends’ tree art on W Spring Street welcomes visitors to the city

If you’ve been in Monroe recently, chances are you’ve seen a unique tree on the corner of Spring and Wayne streets. It is a tree stump that has been carved into a welcome totem to downtown Monroe. It was created by local artist Chris Cruickshank. This piece was commissioned by The Roe and Cruickshank said it also serves as a welcome to their new business in the heart of town. The Roe is schedule to open in the spring, possibly by next month.

“Circle of Friends” tree carving in downtown Monroe. Photo credit: Chris Cruickshank

Cruickshank said the piece is called “Circle of Friends” and it is kin to ‘Rooted Together,’ the stump carving at Childers Park.

“The piece done for the City in the park, was the inspiration for this larger and more prominent totem at The Roe,” he said. “This work is my passion. I have been creating creatures and characters in wood for several decades – and I especially like to carve totems. Working with these stumps and trunks gives dead trees another life, provides visual interest for the community and offers an opportunity to share a message. This approach provides an alternative to traditional tree removal and stump grinding, typically done in our society.”

“Rooted together” tree stump carving in Childers Park by Chris Cruickshank.
Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

Cruickshank said for more than 30 years Susan Pelham and others in the Monroe art community have been working to get this type of public artwork into downtown Monroe.

“Thanks to her efforts, as well as a handful of others, the City of Monroe recently began to see a blank canvas in dead and dying trees and I designed and executed a couple of stump carvings at Childers Park,” he said.

Subsequently, Lindsey South with The Roe saw one of the stump carvings and reached out to Cruickshank, asking him to make something memorable from the dying Cherry tree trunk that was at the bottom corner of the property that now houses the soon-to-open Roe restaurant.

“Prior to seeing the stump carving, this tree was slated to be removed from their downtown property. Thus, the concept for ‘Circle of Friends’ was born and put into action to create this animated outdoor piece,” Cruickshank said. “The City will be tying in their sidewalk and curbing in the very near future and we will be dolling up this little corner with a sitting bench.”

Cruickshank said the business, Land Whisperer, LLC was founded with the mission of Enhancing Outdoor Living. Home and land improvement projects, outdoor living spaces and custom projects, such as these sculptures.

“I offer wood working services including carpentry, wood turning, rustic furniture, architectural details, pyrography and carving. Land improvement projects or details for residential and commercial customers is also part of my repertoire,” he said.

Cruickshank, who goes by the Facebook name the Land Whisperer, is based out of Monroe and works throughout the region.

“I am very open to new opportunities to create more of these public works throughout out area,” Cruickshank said. “Please reach out to me if you know of any appropriate locations for a nice community piece.”

Click or tap on this link to reach Cruickshank or to follow the Land Whisperer on the Facebook page.

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