Legendary wood carver Rolf Heer, (above left), and portraitist Elizabeth Segstro at the Bighorn Cafe in Radium Hot Springs. Photo by Erin Knutson At right: The portrait of Mr. Heer; 100 autographed prints are available, with all funds going to the Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley.

Print of legendary wood carver available for philanthropic cause

Rolf Heer portrait available to the pubic to help the Hospice Society of Columbia Valley

When an eccentric and whimsical Radium Hot Springs wizard and woodcarver got together with a local artist to create a one of a kind masterpiece, genius was born.

A friendship between local legend Rolf Heer and artist Elizabeth Segstro has proven advantageous to the community and to the name of philanthropy.

The pair collaborated on a numbered, limited edition series of collector prints of Mr. Heer that have been released to the public. All proceeds from the prints will be donated to the Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley.

Ms. Segstro admired Mr. Heer’s authenticity from the beginning. The pair met shortly after her arrival five years ago and she knew she had found a kindred spirit and an original.

Mr. Heer is a fixture around town and his weird and wonderful home that goes by the name “Home of a Thousand Faces” is world famous. It is filled with unique treasures, mask carvings, and is home to a host of animals including a pair of chipmunks, skunks, and a couple of goats on the roof. It has been a major tourist attraction to the area since Mr. Heer’s arrival in the early 1970s, and was featured on the popular TV series “Weird Homes.”

“He is the most authentic person I’ve ever met — he is who he is and that’s very rare…I’ve never met anyone like him,” said Ms. Segstro.

Mr. Heer sleeps in a wall and lives his life in a completely original way. He works hard in the summer season, accommodating up to 300 tourists daily at times and he has a phone message that clearly lets visitors know that he will open and stay open as the mood strikes him. He also has a sign outside that says “Open when I feel like it,” in case people don’t get the message.

After a busy season, Mr. Heer heads to Thailand, where he spends his time adrift on a small boat off the coast in search of a fresh meal.

Capturing her subject’s essence is everything to Ms. Segstro in her work as a portraitist. According to the artist, ‘essence’ is something that emerges during the process of creation.

“Rolf just appeared when I was working on his portrait,” she said.

Creating a likeness of someone is not about putting pencil or brush to paper, it’s about letting that person reveal themselves in the work, said Ms. Segstro of making a portrait come to life.

The portrait was done all in pencil and looks like something inspired by DaVinci. Mr. Heer’s timelessness is evident in the piece, as though he stepped out of another century, or from another world.

“Rolf is a colourful character with the soul of a poet,” said Ms. Segstro and that is evident when meeting Mr. Heer.

Mr. Heer is kind, gentle, and incredibly open and makes no bones about his unusual appearance.

“I am who I am and I don’t give a xxxx if you don’t like it,” he said with a smile to the Pioneer.

Mr. Heer has also been compared to a monkey with his tree lopping skills as a tree remover, something he’s been doing since he was 14 years old in Switzerland.

“He just shimmies up the tree just like a monkey,” said Ms. Segstro of his skills. She also lovingly refers to Mr. Heer as a tree spirit.

One hundred prints of Rolf Heer have been released and include an autograph from the legendary wood carver. Prints are matted and sleeved to 16”x 20” and are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Prints are going fast. To order a limited edition of the great and wonderful Rolf Heer, contact Elizabeth Segstro at 250-342-5448 or betty106@telus.net.

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