What a humorous use of a piece of wood! Here was a figure lying on the ground just waiting for an artist to bring it to life. Up in North Haven, Fred Allen would often walk the beach looking for shapes that suggested a sculpture. And he was mischievous, so with this opportunity to be playful, he put a handkerchief in what he saw as an outstretched hand and painted the words “Hurry Back” on the base. He brought the funny figure to life. The tradition among the summer residents was to bring their overnight guests down to the ferry dock and wave goodbye as they motored out of the Thoroughfare, so one of the Hallowell family saw the humor and bought the Tree Trunk figure for $25 at the Summer Show of the North Haven Art Association.
Trained in the classical style, the figure was what taught artists schooled for a profession in the fine arts most of what they needed to know about sculpture. Allen saw the figure immediately suggested in this tree trunk. He taught his students to “Let the material suggest the treatment” to use all of the stone or piece of wood and let the object itself contribute to the design. (Smith) The Tree Trunk is an example of this. He recognized a bare shoulder and arm extending from a body clothed in bark, bent forward earnestly at the hips and knees. The viewer can almost see the shoulder blade and the elbow. The head is raised toward the hand waving to the departing guests and the face gazes out toward the imagined ferry, the hair or cap distinguished from the face by the bark. There are even fingers on the hand to hold the handkerchief. Opportune coincidences and he took advantage of them all!