Trio contribute to artwork of Callahan steamboat

Published 5:52 pm Friday, August 26, 2016


Clayton Penhallagon, Steve Brock and Trenton Beard look at the piece of Cypress wood with a scene of a Callahan steamboat engraved on it. — Powell Cobb

A collaboration between two unique artists, with help from a local historian, has resulted in a work of art that depicts one of the Callahan steamships in a new form.

Trenton Anthony Beard has created a wood burning representation of one of the famous ships on a piece of rare, recovered cypress supplied by Iron City’s Sawmill operator, Steve Cross.

He used as his model a photograph supplied by Clayton Penhallegon, who resides in the Callahan house on Evans Street. He also supplied some details of the Callahan shipping empire.

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Cross said he has had four pieces of rare antique river cypress stored away for several years. He was saving them for something special. As he read about the Callahans in the book Perilous Journey, he had an idea he deemed worthy of one of those a special pieces of wood.

He contacted his friend Beard, with whom he has collaborated on previous projects, and the result is an intricate wood burned plaque that shows a Callahan ship in great detail, right down to the tiny passengers on the upper decks. The border is carved and etched to resemble roping.

Cross thought it was a worthy project because of what the Callahans meant to the prosperity of early Bainbridge. What’s more, he is of the opinion that the salvaged wood used was probably present on the river during the time the Callahan ships plied the waters.

The immediate plan is to display the artwork at River City Junction on East Calhoun Street, across from Stone’s. That is where Beard’s studio is located, and where he does his amazing wood burning designs. He also does detailed pen and ink drawings.

The two artists worked together for an art exhibit several years ago at the Firehouse Gallery, and Firehouse Manager Gerard Kwilecki is currently working on an exhibit called, “Knock on Wood,” that will appear at the Firehouse sometime in 2017. It will feature the work of Beard and Cross, as well as other woodworkers.

Cross has gained fame in the shipbuilding world for his work on the San Salvador, a reproduction of a Spanish galleon undertaken by the San Diego Maritime Museum. Cross supplied the wood for the frames and “futtocks”, the curved ribs in the frame. His latest project has been to supply live oak lumber for the $6 million restoration of the 1894 Ernestine-Morrissey in Massachusetts. He will travel to the East Coast in mid-September to speak at the Institute of Shipbuilding Museum about the history of live oak as it was used in boat building.

Cross also is a master wood carver and some of his carved and polished wildlife creatures are on display at the River City Junction.

He recently worked with craftsman, Jimmy Carter. Yes, that Jimmy Carter, along with Russ Filbeck and Trenton Tye, to build a farm table made of sycamore, and six matching chairs. They were constructed for a live auction to benefit the Carter Center and brought $600,000. That project was featured in the May/June 2016 edition of Southwest Georgia Living.