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Ten Minutes with John “WoodMan” Depew

An Arborist and an Artist



Photos by Rana Faure

John “WoodMan” Depew is a native Pound Ridger and the arborist and owner of Mill River Tree Service. You may not know him, but you may have noticed him having a beer at one of the local watering holes dressed in one of his signature shirts with the sleeves ripped-off, or passing by on the road in one of his vintage bombs. Or maybe you’ve noticed his peculiar pieces of wood on display in Scotts Corners and wondered about who might be behind this oddity.

Where did you grow up?
Right here in Pound Ridge. My mom is almost 90 and still lives in the same house on Hack Green where I grew up, and I live with my wife in a house nearby, so I can help take care of her. I went to Pound Ridge Elementary School and Fox Lane Junior High and then, although I wasn’t much of student and we didn’t have much money, my dad sent me to St. Luke’s for high school. 

How did you get into working with trees?
I’ve always loved trees and being outdoors, but really it’s because I needed work. I sold firewood when I was 11. When I was 15, a guy taught me the basic knot you need to do climbing, and another guy sold me my first chainsaw, and I was in business. I started out knocking on doors and asking for jobs. One of my first customers was Hume Cronyn and his wife, Jessica Tandy. I had no idea who they were, I just knew they had a nice house and could use some trimming. When I got home and told my dad, he was blown away that I had landed business from such prominent neighbors.

What is Mill River Tree Service?
We do pruning, removal, and organic spraying and feeding; we don’t do landscaping. I’m proud to have employed eight or more full-time guys for over two decades now. I have an office and a showroom for some pieces of my wood in New Canaan, which, appropriately, has a door on Forest Street. 

What’s the deal with the tree art you‘re now displaying in Scotts Corners? Are you more an artist than an arborist?  I
I’m not an artist. Mother Nature did the artwork. I have a passion for travel, and I particularly love Australia, where I spend about three months a year frequenting the pubs and drinking beer with regular folks and exploring the outback. I find these incredible pieces of Coolabah and other Australian hardwoods, clean them up, truck them a thousand miles or more, and ship them back to the U.S. in a container. I offer them for sale, but I do it mostly for my own enjoyment.

What about your cars?
My daily drivers are: a ’69 Chrysler Newport I call the “Sled” that has the original green paint and which I’ve never washed, and; a ’69 Plymouth Satellite. They both run great. I’ve got a couple of motorcycles, but I don’t get much use out of them anymore. And I’ve got an old lobster boat I keep up in Rhode Island.

Are you Pound Ridge’s version of Crocodile Dundee?
I hope you find me to be a much kinder, gentler, and more humble version of that character. I see where you make the comparison, and I certainly like having a “shout,” which is Australian for glass of beer, at the local pub, but my focus is getting to know good people, and I always shy away from showboating and showboaters. 

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December 2018

Join us to see work by local photographer Curtis Ryan Lew.

Cost: no charge

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
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Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle

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Jolly Saint Nick comes to Caramoor to fill the Rosen House with holiday cheer. The little ones will be in for an adventure with I Spy a Santa or Two in the Music Room followed by a 30-minute...

Cost: Children $10, Adults $15

Where:
Rosen House Music Room
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Rd
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Telephone: 914-232-1252
Website »

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Buddy (Will Ferrell) is different from all of Santa’s other elves. For one thing, he’s “a cotton-headed ninny muggins” when it comes to making toys. For another, he’s...

Cost: 12.00

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 OLD POST RD
BEDFORD, CT  10506
View map »


Website »

More information

Jolly Saint Nick comes to Caramoor to fill the Rosen House with holiday cheer. The little ones will be in for an adventure with I Spy a Santa or Two in the Music Room followed by a 30-minute...

Cost: Children $10, Adults $15

Where:
Rosen House Music Room
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Rd
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Telephone: 914-232-1252
Website »

More information

The ghosts of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, klezmer, ragtime, Peruvian folk music, and Hindustani singers hover over the music of Pulitzer Prize-winner JOHN HARBISON, WILLIAM...

Cost: $25, $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The Sanctuary Series celebrates the Holiday Season on Sunday afternoon, December 16, with "Bach for the Holidays" featuring keyboardist Anthony Newman performing selected works on piano and organ...

Cost: $15 to $50

Where:
South Salem Presbyterian Church
111 Spring Street
South Salem, NY  10590
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Sponsor: The Sanctuary Series
Telephone: 203-550-5992
Contact Name: Mary Jane Newman
Website »

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On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Making a stamp from a potato is a fun and inexpensive way of turning plain paper into something special. Why not try personalizing your next gift with potato stamp gift wrap? You will have the...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Join us as we make SLIME take home with you using glue, baking soda, and other safe ingredients!Ages: 6-12Registration required - please call 914-864-0130Location of event - downstairs in the kids...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Vanessa Williams, the multi-platinum recording artist and actress from Chappaqua will headline a holiday benefit concert for San Miguel Academy of Newburgh (SMAN) on December 18 at 7:00 p.m. at...

Cost: $100

Where:
Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
480 Bedford Road
Chappaqua, NY  10514
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Sponsor: Orange Bank & Trust Company

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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December 19th at 4:00 PM. Open to all ages. Decorate holiday cookies with icing, candies, and other treats! This event is free and no registration is required. Co-sponsored with the NS Recreation...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

December 22nd at 1:00 PM. Open to all ages. Create ornaments out of popsicle sticks such as popsicle snowflakes and more! Free and no registration required. For questions, you can email the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
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