October 17, 2001 - Stories in Cypress

Put rural storytelling together with Louisiana folk art and historic preservation, and you have the work of a unique Pointe Coupee parish artist.  Henry Watson has been telling stories in cypress for a quarter century, and "Tumey's Travels" takes us to new roads to catch the artist at work. You watch Henry Watson work with your ears as much as with your eyes. It's a symphony as Henry rhythmically carves old cypress into scenes of Louisiana life. "Most folks say that you can make music to the ears," says Henry, "and I'll be tapping and making the sounds and keeping up with the beat and before you know it, I'll be doing more work than I planned to do that day." Henry's love for the wood extends to his mallet -- which he made by hand. "This here is just right for the weight," he says. "I took a 2-by-4 and cut it up, and I made it just the right amount of weight to bang and hit with. You can tell it's been used awhile." Henry Watson's work recalls an old Louisiana, a world or rural dignity.  History he preserves in wood, choosing to carve only on hundred-year-old planks he salvages from old homes, forgotten barns, ancient churches. "It's that old cypress," he says, "that mother nature has seasoned just right." Heritage and stories in seasoned cypress by Henry Watson. "Of course, in Louisiana you've got a lot of stories that could be told here," says Henry Watson, woodcarver. These days most of Henry's work is done on commission -- art made to order on the buyer's specifications. You can see his work at a Sunday brunch at the country club of Louisiana.