February 18, 2009

Sculpted

Sculpting

When I first arrived at my hotel in Windy City, I noticed that that the park across the street was filled with -- well, I wasn't sure what. I could see what seemed to be square objects, each the size of a toolshed, wrapped in tarps that flapped in the wind. During a morning walk, I went over to investigate. The objects turned out to be huge blocks of snow. And a truck was dumping more snow at the end of the sidewalk. Yes, in a total reverse of the snow removal process that I've come to know well in Snowstorm City, this dumptruck was delivering snow to the middle of the city. You just never know what crazy happenings you're going to see in a big city. I love that.

The next time I walked by, artists had arrived with tools and ladders to carve these blocks of snow into sculptures. I stopped to talk to one artist, a bearded man in a flannel shirt, who said the warm sun was a problem. He said that most of the sculptors were waiting for the temperatures to drop. They would stay up most of the night, carving at the snow and filing icy corners. They had a deadline for their art: noon the next day. When I went past later on my way to lunch, I saw a camera crew gathered near the sculptures. A team of huskies was pulling a professionally dressed woman who was trying to balance on a sled while talking cheerfully into a microphone about the sculpture contest.

By the next evening, when I came through with my friends at night, portable spotlights shone on finished sculptures. A small crowd had gathered. On a makeshift half-pipe that was really more like quarter-pipe, local kids were trying snowboarding tricks, their boards clattering as they hit the rails or crashed against fencing. We walked around in the darkness to look at the sculptures, arguing about which one we liked best. One of the snow sculptures — an anatomically correct heart — had not survived the thaw and had crashed to the ground in pieces, ironically, on Valentine’s Day.

Einstein

10 comments:

heidi said...

I like the way the sun is glinting off the buildings in that first pic.

Kathryn and Ari said...

I walked by that sculpture of Einstein just as a young family did. The daughter--probably about 3 years old--was ecstatic. "Look Daddy," she said. "It's GRANDPA!"

Danny Bradfield said...

Winter events like this are especially fascinating for people in southern California. I saw Chicago's snow sculptures the other night on the local news here in L.A.!

kathy a. said...

how amazing!

last year, my sister sent some wonderful photos of sand sculptures in australia -- for christmas.

Kyla said...

So cool!

michaelbcampbell said...

Here in the City of Vowels, we got a foot of the same snow you did. I ventured to make a giant sea snow serpent (no, not by the sea shore) but at about shoulder level its long neck collapsed because the snow was too fluffy. So I made a snow angel.
I was smug about not being too grown up to play in the snow, until I read that you spent your time undressing writers in your hotel room. Dang.

jo(e) said...

Michael: Hey, sooner or later, you'll have to pose naked for my blog. When you coming out this way?

You're on my list.

Leslie F. Miller said...

You know why it's called the windy city, don't you?

bsouth said...

Wow, cool!

Wayfarer Scientista said...

aren't they fun? Can't wait for the ice sculpture contests up here!