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Rick Morrison can be reached at 409.877.6162.
artists began to pay tribute to Galveston’s resilience and to the
crippled trees by carving them into various sculptures all across
the island. North of Broadway and 45
Street, in a small park
located within a small subdivision called The Oaks, an artist
named E. Collins transformed a down tree into a proud and
victorious rendering of Jack Johnson, The Galveston Giant.
Completed in 2011, the sculpture had since suffered from time
and exposure to the elements, but most damaging were ant
and termite infestations.
The Oaks is a development of the Galveston Housing
Authority, which commissioned several tree sculptures after the
Jack Johnson sculpture was
hand sanded by Rick Morrison
Rick Morrison with finished
Jack Johnson sculpture
Jack Johnson’s record is
56 wins, 11 losses and 8 draws
storm. Rick Morrison, local artist and owner of NuCoat Custom
Painting and Remodeling, noticed that the Johnson sculpture
was deteriorating during a project he was working on for the
“I saw that it was in bad shape, and I thought, ‘I can make this
nice, give something back,” says Morrison, a fourth generation
islander. “I’ve followed boxing all my life, I remember watching
fights as a boy with my dad—he was a Marine, probably a
fighter himself. I saw [the sculpture] and I knew I was the one to
do it.”
In addition to his innate and sentimental connection with the
subject matter, Rick also witnessed the sculpture being carved.
“I saw when he was doing it, years ago, but I didn’t know that I
would be the one to fix it one day.”
He began by treating the insect infestation, and then lightly
hand-sanded the sculpture. Morrison then went about
refinishing the sculpture with an added attention to historical
detail. By searching for old fighting material and promotional
posters of Johnson, he was able to re-create the boxer’s look
authentically and accurately.
Artistically, Rick chose transparent stains that would not
conceal the texture of the wood. “It has a little sheen to it, a
little shine, but it doesn’t take away from the wood, and you
can see every mark he carved.”
For the gloves, he used a semi-solid stain that lends them a
“leathery” look, and the large medallion on the belt buckle was
treated with an enhancer to give it a golden glimmer.
In the near future, Rick hopes also to seal the open cavities in
the back of the sculpture in order to better preserve it.
Photos courtesy of Rick Morrison