Bow, Washington artist drives driftwood horse to sculpture park

Nearly life-size, and constructed from driftwood, the horse’s eerily life-like eyes appeared to watch curiously from the back of the blue pick-up truck.

Its creator Joe Treat, of Bow, Washington, disembarked from the 10:30 a.m. ferry to Friday Harbor on Thursday, May 11.

“I thought about getting an actual horse trailer to haul it,” Treat said laughing.

He and the horse were headed to the San Juan Sculpture Park on Roche Harbor Road. Treat had read a call for artists the Sculpture Park placed in the Skagit Herald and contacted them right away. They were excited to accept his horse.

The horse will live at the Sculpture Park for two years. Should the horse sell, Treat will be commissioned to create another piece. He already has another project in mind — a kangaroo with a joey.

Treat became interested in woodworking after a trip to Thailand, visiting a village full of incredible artists. After returning home, inspired by the art Treat had seen, he began designing animals out of driftwood.

“They will last as long as driftwood lasts,” Treat said, noting that he does not alter the wood with any sort of preservative or other chemicals. The wood remains in its natural condition.

He started creating dinosaurs, which he placed in his front yard. A t-rex, stegosaurus and triceratops were some of his first. Later came a rhinoceros, a giraffe with its baby that now can be found at the Depot Arts Center in Anacortes. The Chuckanut Gallery, on the way to Bellingham, also has a couple of his pieces including a German shepherd, and an alligator. Nonetheless, these creatures were not originally designed for sale, and as a result, Treat confessed his yard is getting crowded. He won’t be clearing the sculptures out anytime soon.

“I love to look out my window and see them (the animals) and watch people,” said Treat. “People can’t not drive by without smiling and laughing.”