A wood-carved whale hangs in the Nikiski Senior Center on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Nikiski Senior Center)

A wood-carved whale hangs in the Nikiski Senior Center on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Nikiski Senior Center)

Whale of a job

Nikiski Senior Center gets addition to dining room.

The Nikiski Senior Center was graced with a new dining room centerpiece from a longtime member last week — a 125-pound whale carved out of spruce.

Sasha Fallon, the executive director of the center, said the piece was made by Tommey Garber, who had always envisioned a whale swimming among salmon in the rafters of the building.

“It’s just beautiful,” Fallon said about the wood carving. “It’s just a blessing to receive.”

Garber said he started carving wood when he was 18 years old.

For this project in particular, Garber cut the tree down on his property. From there, he said his process included drawing and cutting out the pattern before shaping and sanding it.

It went up in the building last Thursday, and Fallon said the center has already received a myriad of positive comments about the art from visitors and members.

“They are speechless,” she said. “It’s so beautiful and just a focal piece in our dining area.”

The artist plans to add on to the display after the spring as well, Fallon said.

Garber said he plans on carving seven salmon to complement the whale and complete his artistic vision for the space. The salmon will be carved from juniper from eastern Oregon.

“Everybody seems to love it,” Garber said.

Fallon said once the salmon are ready, which will likely be sometime next spring, the senior center will host a formal gallery opening.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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