Elmer Tarr Fish Carving Legacy on Display at Museum

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
While many visitors will marvel at the large woodcarvings surrounding Starved Rock Lodge, another exhibit of the woodcarving art is now a featured exhibit at the Heritage Center on the La Salle County Historical Museum Campus at Utica. 

The museum display of hand-carved fish is a selection from the collection created by Elmer Tarr of Leonore.

Tarr retired as an electrician from the Hennepin steel mill in 1997 and took up carving as a hobby.

During his retirement, Tarr carved dozens of different specimens of fish including rainbow trout, salmon, bass and bluegill. He worked for about six hours every morning in his home with each carving taking about three to five weeks to complete.

Tarr was a perfectionist. He took great pains to duplicate the most intricate details of each fish.The thousands of scales on each carving were burned in, and the paper-thin fins were curled in a realistic fashion using steam from boiling water.

Each fish in the display is mounted on a stand with the native rocks and grasses, which Tarr also carved from wood.  Each example is unique and posed in a natural position. 

Over the years, Tarr’s prize-winning work was seen in the annual Valley Carvers competitions at Starved Rock Lodge, at Town and Country Art Shows in Ottawa and at the Sandwich fairs.

The completed display at Utica was designed by the museum director to simulate a natural environment in which the fish were swimming.

A generous contribution by the friends of Elmer Tarr covered the expenses in constructing the display.

Although Elmer Tarr died in 2014, his legacy will live on through his creative work, which was donated to the LaSalle County Historical Society by his wife Sandra Tarr.

If you go:
The museum is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays,  noon until 4 p.m.

Source: News Tribune