GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) — A man who transformed massive tree trunks into handcarved masterpieces is one step closer to potentially taking home the top prize of ArtPrize 10.
O’Neal found out early Sunday afternoon that his work made the Final 20 cut.
“It was exciting. I was the fifth name mentioned. So, by the time they got to the fourth one, I was starting to sweat it, but yeah. So I went from low to high real quick,” O’Neal said.
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Champions features five sculptures of well-known athletes, including Mohammed Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Grand Rapids’ own Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"I didn’t know I’d be bringing Floyd here at the time I had done him, so it’s good to have worked out with that hometown connection for him,” O’Neal said.
Each piece stands between 61/2 feet to just above 8 feet.
“I started wood carving about 10 years ago. A couple years ago, I decided I actually wanted to try a full-size person. So, my wife and I follow the UFC, Conor McGregor was kind of big at the time, so I decided he would be my first subject. Since then, I just kept doing one after another,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal says each piece took him 700 to 800 hours to complete, spread over five to six months, since his full-time job is at an oil refinery.
"Pretty much any time I’m not at work, I’m carving something,” he said.
O’Neal will find out if his hard work pays off Friday, when the winners are announced during the ArtPrize Awards Show, airing on WOOD TV8.
ArtPrize 10 runs through Oct. 7.