By David J. Kent
Thursday, August 17, 2023
Abraham Lincoln spent many hours on the stump campaigning for himself and other Whigs, then Republicans. Now he is immortalized on a stump in the front yard of Michelle Krowl.
Lincoln Group of DC members know Michelle well. She's been a recurring speaker at our events and anyone who does research knows her as a Civil War historian and curator of the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Needing to remove two of the aging oak trees in her Arlington, Virginia yard, Michelle opted to honor sturdy old Abe by turning one of them into a sculpture. When the tree truncators came to lop off the two trees, she had them leave an eight-foot section standing in her front yard. The odd long, tall, stump stood there through a year of weather delays and scheduling conflicts before finally starting to become art.
Stepping into the breach was Andrew Mallon, a chainsaw artist who had transformed a neighbor's dying tree into the Boston Lighthouse. Being the Lincoln geek that she is, Michelle pulled a copy of an Alexander Gardner photograph of Lincoln posing with officers at Antietam. Lincoln stands upright with his hands behind his back, which Michelle and Andrew agreed was perfect for the stump that would be Abe. They also decided to include a recreated stump at the bottom to represent stump speaking and provide a base for Mr. Lincoln to stand. Andrew then spent three days chipping away at the wood with his miracle chainsaw, answering forever the mystery of how such an unwieldy instrument could create such a detailed artwork. I mean, that's Lincoln face and coat and buttons. Michelle reports that "even the wrinkles at the bottom of his trousers" are carved into the sculpture.
After coloring and shading - applied with a blowtorch no less - the final sculpture emerged as "Lincoln on the Stump."
Michelle notes that some creativity went into how to handle the metal garden hose holder a previous homeowner had inserted into the back of the original stump, which may now hold an occasional holiday decoration rather than an actual garden hose. The result is simply phenomenal. Thanks to the foresight of Michelle Krowl and the creative genius of artist Andrew Mallon, the world has a new sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, and a rather unique one at that.
Readers should consider this post a sort of highlight reel, or at least a teaser. The fall issue of the Lincoln Forum Bulletin will carry Michelle's more detailed article about "Lincoln on the Stump." The Bulletin will be handed out at the annual Forum conference in Gettysburg this November, plus members of the Forum will receive it in the mail around that time. Michelle will also be participating in one of the panel discussions, so if you have not already, now is the time to register.
NOTE: Registration is Open for the Lincoln Group's September 12, 2023 Dinner Meeting at Maggiano's featuring Marcia Cole as Charlotte Scott. Go here for more information and to register.