One Man's Trash Turns into a Neighborhood Treasure

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - When faced with a rotting tree in their front yard, a family in South Lake Tahoe decided to turn it into a piece of art.

They hired Erik Fredsti to do some commission work. He used his gift to turn their trash into a neighborhood treasure.

For three months, Fredsti carved a masterpiece out of a 100-foot tree with just a chisel and a mallet.

"She's an older bear, she's not physically perfect. I wanted to show that there's beauty in imperfection." Fredsti said as he described his bear carving. "She's not anatomically correct, but she's not supposed to be."

The 12-foot bear isn't what people normally expect when they walk by every day.

"I didn't want your average bear which is either a chainsaw carved kind of a cartoonish looking thing or a snarling trophy-winning person's type of bear with claws and fangs," Fredsti said.

Instead, he wanted a bear with an emotional connection to the neighborhood.

"People love it and a while back some people were here working on the road said the same thing. They've never seen anything so authentic before," Ade Spande, a neighbor said.

Initially, the city was going to take the beetle-ridden tree down because it was hazardous to the power line. Fortunately, Fredsti found a way to give life to something dead.

"This type of work you don't really make a mistake. To me it's like working with hard clay...she's taking life as I move her around," Fredsti said.

Now, homes at Rocky Point Road can rest assured, knowing that their new neighbors are watching over them.

Fredsti has been a carver for 50 years and says his next big project is a life-size carving of war her, Crazy Horse, located in front of Capitol Loans in Carson City.