CAMDEN, Maine — Even among athletes nearly 7 feet tall, Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett is an imposing figure. So it’s no wonder that a life-sized, wood-carved sculpture of the NBA player, featured in the window of a high-end furnishings and crafts store on Camden’s Bayview Street, is a traffic-stopper.
Jon Moro, 32, of Rockport is the creator of the statue, which depicts Garnett from the midchest up in a familiar pose — arms outstretched, shaved head tilted slightly backward, chest expanded — bearing the Boston logo.
Moro is a fan, but the work is not strictly an homage; rather, explained the personable young artist, Garnett spoke to him both on aesthetic and athletic levels.
“I was aware of him in high school,” Moro said of Garnett, recalling when the player was on the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Moro, a 1999 Camden Hills Regional High School graduate who played on that year’s state champion basketball team, said he connected with what Garnett projects as a player.
Coach Jeff Hart put “a lot of emphasis on intensity, and on being a good teammate” when Moro was on his high school team, and Garnett embodies those qualities, he said.
“As a sculptor, it’s a lot more fun to sculpt somebody who’s interesting looking, not someone who looks like everybody else,” Moro said. Garnett has a long neck, a striking jawline and long, sinewy arms — his “wingspan,” as basketball players refer to it, is more than 7 feet wide, he said.
Leslie Curtis, owner of Leslie Curtis Designs, the store that is carrying the piece, praises Moro and his work. The store also is selling three wood carvings by Moro depicting baseball players Smokey Joe Williams, Satchel Paige and Warren Spahn, which stand about a foot tall each.
“I’m really loving having his pieces,” Curtis said, adding that the Garnett sculpture has generated lots of comments. She describes Garnett, as he is rendered in the sculpture, as “regal,” a kind of “African warrior.”
One visitor, a local business owner who coached Moro when he was in middle school, told Curtis that Moro was one of the best student-athletes to play at Camden Hills.
Moro appeared embarrassed at the compliment, but the facts are that he played soccer, basketball and baseball in high school, then basketball and baseball at Colby College. These days, he coaches baseball at Camden Hills and actually used his tallest player to model for the Garnett sculpture.
Photographs probably don’t do justice to the work, and may fail to capture the expressiveness Moro achieved by carving Garnett in wood. Rather than create the sculpture in pieces, he glued long pieces of pine and basswood together to form a large rectangular form, then began carving the figure.
Moro has found that staining the wood, rather than painting it, helps give it depth and texture, both of which are evident in the arms of the Garnett piece. Getting the dimensions right began by knowing that most people’s heads are from 6½ to 7 inches wide. From a photograph of Garnett, “I did some math,” he said, and extrapolated the rest of the player.
The way Moro discovered his art sounds like a game in which the home team was down by double digits in the first half but comes back to win. Moro said that after two years at Colby, even though he was doing fine academically, he found himself in the midst of what he calls a personal crisis and left school.
“I had to figure out who I was,” he remembered. His mother suggested he take an adult education class in painting, which seemed odd at the time, because Moro had no previous interest in art. But the class awakened a passion, which he then pursued at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he earned an art degree.
“I’ve really built my life back, in a way,” he said.
For the last 10 years, Moro has been carving, experimenting, refining, getting better.
“I feel it’s important to keep working on my craft. Now, the process is really streamlined,” he said.
He has produced about 50 works. More recently, they’ve been inspired by sports.
“It seems like a niche, right now,” he said, gesturing to other stores in town that feature carved birds and other animals.
The Garnett piece carries a price tag of $10,000. Moro has sold several smaller works.
For information about Moro’s work, visit www.jmoroart.com.