Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Elements in Ice

This summer a fellow from Red Deer, who is passionate about art, visited Bergen Rocks for the second year. He fell in love woth Bergen Rocks and Bergen Store's smoked farmer sausage. While Carlos and I were creating a sculpture for one of his projects in Red Deer he felt that an arts event would be a good way to raise some funding for another project he is involved in in Red Deer, and to give families something interesting to attend during the Christmas season. "Julietta's Place", a 10 unit transitional housing project for women and children that are victims of violence falls under the umbrella of Womens Outreach Society. We only got started on the event about 2 weeks before it was to take place so it was a real whirlwind of recruiting sponsors, setting up the site in downtown Red Deer and getting all of the equipment and materials we would need for the ice sculptures, breakdancers and native dancers that would participate. We had to harvest ice, recruit sculptors, build a stage and artists lounge where we could all warm up if it was cold (and the last day was bitter cold for the grand opening). Ken and his

crew from River City Developments worked like crazy to get everything ready and we got it done just in the nick of time. All of the artists worked really hard too, volunteers made sure we had lots to eat and we slept as fast as we could in the hotel rooms provided so we could get back to work early again each day. The site was ready about 15 minutes before the gates opened for the unvieling ceremony! That was just great! Native dancers and breakdancers put on a wonderful show despite the bitter cold and everyone that came enjoyed the sculptures after they were lit up all at once in dramatic fashion following the ceremony (cut short on account of the cold weather). Here are some pictures and videos that will give you an idea of what got done.

Victor Hernandez a Canadian from Cuba played sax at the opening. He was worried about how the cold would affect his instrument but after we reminded him that he is now Canadian and the cold is something we just deal with he got out there and wailed on his horn. WOW! what a show.

Greg McMartin's chief surrounded by mushrooms, snails and inukshuk was a crowd pleaser.

Will Truchon put up a huge inukshuk that you could see from the road, it was beautiful and let people know there was something going on at the site. The form it's standing on is 8 feet high and 10 feet across so you get an idea of how big this guy is.

It's early in the year for snow around here but we got it this year. Some of the equipment we needed was buried at the bottom of the six foot fence along the back of my place. No problem getting it out of there but first I had to find it.

The ice had a really thick rind on it this year and for most of the artists chose to leave it on and use it to create definition. This one of a thunderbird worked out really well. There were also some air bubbles in the ice which lend some interest and challenge to making everything work out too. My daughter Jessica and her friend Candice helped out with this one and they got all excited about doing some ice carving again when they get a chance, we're hoping to get more locals involved next year.

The indian face here showed up really well from just the right angle, he has sun shining on one side of his face and the other is in a shadow.....you have to imagine it because I didn't get a picture that shows how the illusion is created but still an interesting piece.

The rind really worked to bring out the buffallo.

Eagle and some native symbols-bear's paw and a shield kind of thing
Carlos from Cuba did an awesome job on these two friends, a bear and a raven.

Some tools make the ice just fly and fill your pockets with chips, here I'm using a draw knife usually used for pealing logs, it really pulls the ice off the block and leaves a nice straight and smooth line.

At night the pieces change completely, here is Carlos with his bear and raven after the sun went down. You can see what I mean about the rind on the ice, it was up to 6 inches thick on some of the blocks. You can also see the size of our blocks, not the 36" high and 20" wide ones commonly used in ice carving events. This is so unique we will be able to attract more top notch talent next year to carve "Big Ice" in Red Deer.
It took a lot of ice to create the whole on-site scene and a full day to harvest it. You can't tell but this is Morton, Carlos and Ryan. When we realized we were a little short of helpers Ken got Ryan, a neighbors son, over to help us. He ran the loader while Carlos cut the blocks and I rigged the equipment to pull the ice out. The channel into the lake is about 50 yards long.

Ken was pretty worried about Carlos having an incident with the cold water at the pond. He made us promise to keep him away from the edges and wear the full size life jacket all the time. Here's Carlos with the floater jacket on and as promised well away from the edge.....actually in the very centre of one of the blocks. Well, you just can't keep big kids from playing when there is ice and water involved.

A dance troop from Red Deer came out and did some high energy break dancing for the crowd followed by wonderful native children doing traditional dances. I didn't get any video or photos of them as my camera batteries had frozen up and my fingers were too cold to put new ones in by then, but suffice to say it was awesome. The last dance they took partners from the crowd to participate in the "Owl Dance" then the lights went on the sculptures and people mingled around the site enjoying the artworks for a little while despite the biting cold.

Ken was wanting to do some sculpting all weekend but was just too busy getting things ready on the site. When he got his chance he said to heck with a shovel or chisel, (bless his heart)....I'm going to shape this big block of snow in a hurry. It didn't work out to be the piece he started out to make but he did get a form to develop that we later went to work on and made the face of Old Man Time. Greg McMartin from Bowden got that going just before the construction guys were going to haul the pile away......

See you next year at "Elements in Ice" Red Deer, Alberta