Miller to begin final Biloxi sculpture

Award-winning carver Marlin Miller, who has sculpted marine figures from more than a dozen trees in the medians of Beach Boulevard in Biloxi, will be in town this weekend, working on what is scheduled to be his final project in Biloxi.

Miller will be sculpting three osprey over a whale’s tale from the standing dead oak trunk in the center median south of the Biloxi City Cemetery. The sculpture, which will stand as high as 20 feet, will probably take a second visit, Miller said.

Osprey are fish-eating birds of prey that can be found in locations near the water. Nests of the large raptors can be seen on barrier islands, Deer Island or in electric towers on the Bay of Biloxi. The brown birds can reach two feet in length with a six-foot wing span.
Eagles in Long Beach

Miller had originally planned a family of humpback whales for the final Biloxi site, but he revised those plans to include osprey after sculpting eagles from a standing dead tree in Long Beach (shown at right).

Miller, a Fort Walton Beach, Fla. sculptor, has been donating his time and talent to the city’s Katrina sculpture project. A group of Biloxians helped his community recovery from Hurricane Ivan several years ago, and after seeing the five original sculptures the city commissioned in the Beach Boulevard median, he was inspired to donate to the project.

In all, Miller has crafted 15 sculptures in Biloxi. Another five were sculpted by “chainsaw artist” Dayton Scoggins, who the city commissioned in March 2007. The city paid Scoggins $7,000 for the five original sculptures.

“Marlin saw what we were doing and wanted to volunteer his time and talent, and over the past several months he’s created quite a collection, a gift of crowd-pleasing sculptures,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway, who made Miller an honorary citizen of Biloxi during the Biloxi-Fort Walton Beach high school football game last September.

Miller has refused any payment or reimbursement for his work. The city has secured him hotel rooms from casino resorts, primarly from IP Casino Resort Spa.

“This has been an outstanding community project,” Holloway said. “It shows the community’s creativity. It creates new landmarks. It shows how we can improvise, how we can make lemonade from lemons, and, let’s not forget, it’s all been possible because of the work of one of the thousands of volunteers who have come into our community.”

Miller, in a recent e-mail to the city, said he has been inspired by the residents he has encountered.

“It has now been a little over a year since this project began,” he wrote. “It started out as you giving me the opportunity to be a part of a rebuild story.

“It was a chance for me to make a mark on the Mississippi Coast. Over this past year I have had thousands of people come up to me and tell me their story.

“I see now that this project was never about the artist. It was about the people of this Coast. They are to thank. Their grace gave me the inspiration and will to continue. I was just God’s tool. I only wish I could have done more.”

Photo galleries: To see photos and video from the Katrina sculpture project in Biloxi, click here.

News and notes

Tree supply exhausted: Replant Biloxi distributed a thousand trees in an hour in Hiller Park this morning, exhausting the entire supply of what had been planned to be a two-day tree giveaway. Another tree giveaway may be conducted after Mardi Gras, city arborist Eric Nolan said.

Council agenda: The agenda and available resolutions for Tuesday’s City Council meeting are now online. To view the documents, click here.