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Longtime North Bend artist continues to create beautiful pieces

More than 30 years ago, local artist Adi Hienzsch faced the most challenging assignment of his career. He had six weeks to carve the entire logging history of Centralia on a 30-by-10-foot piece of wood.

The request didn't faze him, though, he said. He just did his research, carved the design and made sure to appease the customer.

"With wood carving, it was actually, for me, not so difficult," Ari said. "People were asking for certain things and I could find out what fits with them."

A self-taught woodcarver and painter, Adi, 82, has been creating works on wood and canvas for more than 50 years. His art often features Alpine themes with snowy mountains and nature scenes.

"I think [his work] is phenomenal," said Eva, his wife of 52 years. "He's so talented."

A native of Bavaria, Germany, Ari said that as a boy, he saw a master carver design work at a center in Germany and he immediately picked up the hobby.

His focus on painting and carving Alpine images comes from memories of the town he and Eva grew up in, which is known for its snowy and mountainous scenes.

However, he also paints local scenes; North Bend reminds him of Germany.

"It reminds us from where we came from," Adi noted.

His home is in North Bend, though, he said, and it has been for more than 40 years.

The couple has two adult children: Stephen, 50, who lives in Kentucky, and Dagmar, 48, who made her home on the Sammamish Plateau.

Attracted to the natural setting of Washington and the then-spaciousness of the United States, he and Eva first moved to the Valley in the 1960s.

They bought a rambler on five acres of land and Ari promptly carved almost every wood surface into something artistic, from playful gnomes to animals and a scene of himself and Eva looking at Snoqualmie Falls. He converted their barn into an art studio and after brief stints in teaching, Ari turned professional.

"It was something he wanted to do," Eva said. "For his peace of mind, he did what he liked to do."

In 1969, he opened Edelweiss-Chalet, a shop set on the same property as the Hienzsch's home that sells paintings, craft items, gifts and woodcarvings. The Hienzsch's opened a second store in Seattle in the 1970s, but sold it by 1976.

His North Bend shop is still open six days a week and those who stop by are likely to see Adi crafting something new.

"I just love to do it," he said. "I have a hard time [stopping]. At my age, I should do more sleeping."

Though Adi had to stop carving custom works three years ago because of problems with his hands, he still occasionally carves his own designs and he continues to do custom paintings.

"I still go every day to my workshop and paint," Adi said.

"Every painting he does surprises me," Eva said. "He gets better with every painting he does."

A skier since age 2, Adi has spent his life crafting outdoor scenes and has never had a desire to paint or carve much else, though he is able.

"He stuck to his beliefs in nature and mountains," Eva said. "Sure, people can change, but he just stuck to his own feelings."

Ari said that even though he has been an artist for more than half a century, he has no plan to stop at any point soon and considers himself fortunate to still be able to do something he enjoys.

"I go every day to workshop and do what I love to do," he said.

The Edelweiss-Chalet, located at 14410 436th Ave. S.E. in North Bend, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and on Sundays by appointment. For more information, call (425) 888-0490.

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