It is like driving up to something out of Alice in Wonderland.
The place is very, very busy and whimsy. My imagination immediately goes wild as I try to take in all that comes within view! From afar, I can see several unusual buildings that appear to be pieced together, bit by bit, as if to slowly create a surreal reality. The buildings, constructed of rough-hewn logs with odd-shaped windows haphazardly placed in a comical fashion. Peering at the windows, I get a peek at some of the treasures on display inside the building. A corrugated tin roof graces the structures in a wandering fashion, as if in a dream. Sweeping porches surround the main building, filled with odd-shaped benches, tables and tall figures that make me feel like I may also be in a Dr. Seuss story! At the front door, stands one of these caricatures that looks like Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken! Another one looks like someone with a theatrical happy mask on wearing a hoody. It’s bizarre and it tickles my fancy! It’s a fantasy world! I noticed a tree house, waaaaaay up in a tree. To get to it, there is a winding spiral staircase made of tree branches and wood pieces that climb up to, first, a deck of re-purposed old items for the railing and then continues on up to the tree house constructed of the same.
Located on highway 199, along the Avenue of the Giants, just north of Cave Junction in Kirby, OR, is this magical place called
It’s A Burl Gallery!
Owned and operated since 1987 by Joy and Harvey Shinerock, it sports several buildings, sculptures and fantasmical funky stuff made from burls.
So, what exactly IS a burl? It’s a tree growth where the grain has grown in a deformed manner. They are commonly found in rounded form and filled with a knot of dormant buds that sometimes manifests into wildly growing branches. They are caused by some kind of stress or trauma to the tree. Even viruses and fungus can cause them. Burls grow on several types of trees but the most prized ones come from Redwood, Madrona or Myrtle trees. They are sought after by furniture makers, artists and sculptors for their unique beauty.
One of the most noticable artistic forms I saw as I left the car and started to meander around the grounds is this fountain that flows purple water! Then, there is the crazy looking water tower with a face and odd knot hole windows! I found bench swings made from burl wood, vintage vehicles brightly painted sporting figures as if driving them. Antique farm equipment…..A buggy that looks a little like the Flintstone mobile with bicycle wheels hangs from a tree in a manner as if it came from the movie “E.T.!” Twisted piles of branches lay about. Funky dog houses with ramps…Garden bridges made from wrought iron or twisted branches….It all seems as if to be from a child’s dream!
Out of creative respect and also because there was just so much else to see, I didn’t actually explore these buildings. They are the other out-buildings for working with the wood and creating…..The Sculptor’s world…..
Entering the main gallery, my visual cortex is delightfully assaulted by so much busy-ness! There is not a spot in this gallery I can place my eyes and not see SOMETHING! The main room is packed with so much, I have to just stand there and take it all in, first, before I can continue on and explore! Burl furniture is arranged in little sitting areas. Toys, like characters on a stage are strategically placed about. Even all of the windows have variety of wood creations set in front of them. Very high vaulted, PURPLE ceilings are supported by knotty pine and carved poles. There are vases, saddles, bicycles, tricycles, tables, walking sticks…..You name it; it’s there and they are all made out of burls and other woods of the forest. If they thought it; they created it!
This Gallery is the proverbial Grand Finale to the journey along the Avenue of the Giants.
It’s a stop I recommend not to miss!