Ice Sculpture Beyond Banquets
What sand is to summer, ice and snow are to winter a perfect medium for creating transient outdoor art.
Fiddler, by Vladimir Zhikhartsev and Vitaliy Lednev of Russia, was the first-place single-block
abstract winner in the Alaskan World Ice Art Championship competition in 2006.
Of course, exactly how transient depends on the location. Fairbanks, Alaska, is the site of the
World Ice Art Championships, one of the largest annual ice
art competitions and exhibitions anywhere, and it lasts nearly the entire month of March. The competition, now in
its 18th year, attracts more than 100 ice artists from all over the world. Forty teams compete in the single-block
event, in which each one- or two-person team has 60 hours to transform a 5-foot-by-8-foot-by-3-foot blocks of ice
each weighing more than two tons into a work of art. The multi-block competition gives teams of two to four
sculptors 132 hours to work with 10 blocks of ice measuring 4 feet by 6 feet by 3 feet. Heavy equipment and
skilled operators assist the artists in positioning the massive blocks.
All competitive pieces are judged at night, under white lights. The pubic can watch the sculptures take shape,
as well as view the finished pieces in the Amateur Open exhibition (illuminated by colored lights at night) and
the Junior competition for high school students. While the first sculptures for the 2008 event will be created
beginning Feb. 26, the finished pieces will be on display until March 23, thanks to natural refrigeration and short
By comparison, the week-long
Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colo., could seem tame. Staged in January as part of the town's
annual celebration of the Norse god of Winter, Ullr, the competition also began 18 years ago. Now it draws hundreds of
applications from around the globe annually, from which only 14 are selected to sculpt a single block of snow, 12 feet
tall and 10 feet on a side, into something wonderful. The four-person teams have 65 hours to complete their masterpieces
using only hand tools, ice and water – no power tools or colorants allowed – and only the original volume of snow
The Nautilus by Team Tennessee won first place in The Town of Breckenridge's 2005 Snow Sculpture Championships competition.
The Town of Breckenridge estimates that 30,000 visitors come to see and vote for their favorite snow sculptures
while they are being created Jan. 22-26. After the non-monetary awards in several categories are made, organizers
expect the sculptures to stand through Feb. 3 or as long as they last in the dry mountain climate at 9,600 feet
above sea level.
Isaiah Zagar's Mosaics
Artist Isaiah Zagar has developed a unique niche along the unpredictable path of his career.
In 1959 he received a B.A. from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he specialized in graphic design.
In the 1960s he joined the Peace Corps with his wife, Julia, who is also an artist. They spent three years in the
Peruvian highlands to help local craftsmen develop and market craftwork that would suit North American taste and
lifestyle. During this assignment, they collected quantities regional folk art from the region with the intent
of opening a store to sell it in the United States.
In 1968 they bought an inexpensive house on South Street in a derelict Philadelphia neighborhood, opened a
store on the first floor and moved into the apartment above it. To attract people to his store, Zagar said he
took inspiration from the male bower bird, which creates complex and highly decorated nests to attract a mate,
and began decorating his building. He collected detritus from the South Street corridor, taught himself how to
apply it, and produced a mosaic mural two stories high.
Detail of mural by Isaiah Zagar on Randolph Court.
In the meantime, the neighborhood revived as other arts groups and businesses moved in, and Zagar's gallery
flourished. He bought another building to hold his growing collection and also decorated it. Soon he received
commissions from others who wanted his murals. As of 2007, he has decorated seven buildings on South Street
from roof to ceiling and has created 100 murals throughout the country.
His supply sources have expanded as well. Some are brought by street people, some are donated by people who
contact him before pitching out products that are either flawed or those beyond their prime such as worn
floor-to-ceiling mirrors from gyms. He recently received 10,000 pounds of unsalable marble and ceramic tiles
from a local warehouse whose owner admires his work.
Author's note: I phoned Zagar for information for this article at 2 p.m. on a Sunday and an assistant told
me he would be leaving for Morocco at 4 p.m. When we spoke, I thanked him for taking the time to speak to me
before his trip. In a calm voice, he said, "Well, I'm always going somewhere. What do you want to know?"
For further information, visit www.isaiahzagar.org.
If you are visiting Philadelphia, you can see his murals on South Street, between 10th and 11th Streets.
Rebicycling Means Rebirth for Bikes
Among the easiest ways to start becoming more eco-friendly are recycling and getting around town on a bicycle
rather than in a car. These two activities come together in the Re-Bike Project, a gallery of artistically recycled
cycles that traveled North America between May and September in conjunction with the 2007
Bicycle Film Festival.
For Re-Bike, sportswear maker Puma challenged seven culture, style and music magazines to each create a bike
that expressed the personality of the publication. The catch was that the bikes had to be made with recycled
parts, for $200 or less. The resulting creations ranged from fanciful to retro.
Anthem magazine's designers described how they developed their "minimal, euro-chic" entry: "We found this old Austrian/German frame and fork buried under a pile of junk parts that we really dug. From that we pieced together the rest of the parts trying to stick close to the era the bike was originally from, probably late '60s."
The idea for rebicycling was born in 2004, in the foyer of the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City.
That's where an artists' collective known as The 62
worked with students from two local high schools to create art and working transportation from discarded bicycles.
Each bicycle received a new identity conceptualized by the youthful artists, and after 12 weeks of work, became
part of a Tour de Bronx parade down the Grand Concourse.
The project caught the imagination of the folks at Puma, which has provided funds to help the grassroots
event become an ongoing project for the youth of the South Bronx.
The bikes created for the Re-Bike Project were the work of teams from Los Angeles and San Francisco to
Toronto and Brooklyn, and traveled with the film festival from New York City to San Francisco. After the
North American tour, the bikes were sold on eBay to benefit five bicycle-related charities that share the
mission of getting more safe and sound pedal-powered vehicles into the hands of more people. Winning bids
for the bikes ranged from just about the original $200 budget to over $600.
The Eco-Friendly Hatter
Ryan Williamson wears many hats some of which he designs and sews by hand. He is a hat-maker,
environmentalist, avid outdoorsman, and solo entrepreneur.
The Mouse Works hats are designed in many styles for men, women and children of all ages.
Styles range from traditional beanies, berets. balaclavas and rolled domes to jester hats (above).
Ryan Williamson holding a year's worth of trash that accumulated in his workshop during 2005.
His one-man business, The Mouse Works, in 2006 produced between 5,000 and 8,000 hats for babies, youth and
adults from factory "castoffs." Williamson designs, stitches, markets, and ships all the hats himself, and works
exclusively with polar fleece fabric, which he buys from jobbers who supply him with seconds or colors that the
manufacturers no longer use. He sells them at craft fairs, in a few stores throughout the country and on the internet.
Williamson not only recycles what factories don't want, he also recycles his own leftovers. All the fabric
scraps from his hat production are used to make more hat parts, patchwork clothes, tassels or to stuff pillows for
people and pets, which he gives away. "I have never thrown away any fleece scraps (except for some floor sweepings),
the 28-year-old entrepreneur said. "In 2005 my production hung out at about 5,000 hats and I still only filled one
paper grocery bag with trash."
Williamson started making hats professionally when he was 14. The income helped him pay expenses for hiking
trips and later to pay for college, where he majored in Environmental Studies. He likes the flexibility of running
a one-man business, and recently built a new house/studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Va.,
a location that allows him to take long weekends and a month off each year to explore the outdoors. In 2007 he
kayaked the 400-mile length of the James River from its headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.
Williamson's love of the outdoors and his choice of fabric fit together. Polar fleece was developed in the
1970s for the outdoor industry and military because its individual fibers don't absorb water and it will keep
the person who wears it warm, even if it is wet.
Mouse Works hats have no designer labels. "I believe that unique handmade quality is desirable over brand
name recognition," Williamson explained. "No label is permanently attached to the outside of my creations in a
small effort to counteract the logo-saturated market. " To see more hats
visit his online store.
Plastic Into Hope — and Art
Diners at the food court in Montreal's Eaton Centre can't miss the message to please recycle their plastic
water bottles – there's a five-story sculpture made of them rising above their heads.
The mall has had a
vision of reducing landfill-bound waste for some time, working with tenants for two years by recycling paper and
cardboard used in its 175 stores and restaurants. For the 500,000 shoppers who visit the mall each week, there
are reusable lunch sacks and separate containers for waste, glass, paper and metal in the food court, and they
can drop off used cellphones and batteries at the information booth.
But research shows Quebecers recycle less than 9 percent of the plastic water bottles bought in the province.
When Eaton Centre marketing director Zeina Barghout was looking for creative ways to increase recycling efforts,
the idea of a visual reminder that was too huge to ignore was born. Why not collect all the water bottles discarded
in the mall and transform them into a work of art right there in the food court, where it might make people think
about where they were tossing their trash?
The materials were not hard to find: Since the beginning of July, 10 recycled plastic receptacles shaped
like water drops have been placed around the shopping center. They carry the message of the project: "Drop by
drop, transforming plastic into hope," and by the first week in October, had collected more than 25,000 bottles.
Local artist-sculptor Phil Allard has transformed the trash into a translucent, snakelike sculpture that reaches
up toward the domed atrium 160 feet above the food court.
"All of my work is based on recycling and recovery," Allard told the Montreal Gazette. "It's a question of
using useless things to show people they don't need them in their lives. It's one thing to protest, another to
create." To create the sculpture, Allard tied the bottles together with fishing line, then wrapped them in
transparent plastic chicken wire, and attached more bottles to the wire. He's removed the labels from the
bottles on the outside of the wire to let the sunlight from the atrium shine through.
Plans for the finished sculpture call for four 25 meter-long sections filled with up to 70,000 bottles.
By the beginning of October, two sections were in place, and the third under construction. Barghout
told Eco-Artware.com that visitors will find "a surprise at the top" of the completed work. The sculpture
is place from Oct. 24 through mid-November — when the Christmas decorations go up, according to Barghout.
Then all those plastic bottles are destined to be recycled. The mall’s efforts to raise awareness of plastic
and other kinds of recycling will be ongoing.
Sculpture by Phil Allard in the Montreal Eaton Shopping Center. Five stories tall, the sculpture is made
entirely of plastic bottles collected in the Center since July 2007.
Custom designed recycling bin for collecting used plastic water bottles in the Montreal Eaton Shopping Center.
The collector, one of ten in the Center, is made from plexiglass that can be recycled. The Center also recycles
paper and cardboard used in stores and restaurants within the Mall. Reusable lunch sacks are sold and separate
containers for waste glass, paper and metal are placed in the food court. Used cellphones and batteries are
collected at the information booth.
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