Tag Archive: Art


The Ice Art Championships are underway! I’ll show some of the competition pieces next Saturday. But I did pick up a season pass and have a look at the kids’ park. If the weather cooperates, I hope to get some photos of more than just this bit close to the entrance.

This one's very interactive--kids (including some quite large ones) can get into the dish and be spun around.

For a while we were afraid we’d lose the World Ice Art Championships. They’ve been held for years on land owned by the Alaska Railroad. Something happened last year—I think the railroad raised the rent, but I’m not sure, and for a while the organizers were frantically hunting a new site. Well, they’ve found a permanent home and while it’s still rather raw, it promises to be as spectacular as the old one.

This one is actually a slide. Sorry there isn't more contrast with the sky.

As I said, I only got to see the kids’ park Saturday, but I did take a few photos. Even the slides and the sculptures to climb on are pretty neat. The train sounds like a good idea once I figure out where the station is. I went again on Monday, and got some more photos of the kids’ park, plus took enough more for several more posts. Watch for them.

Isn’t our Alaskan ice beautifully clear?

Note: you can click on any of the photos to see larger versions.

The sabertooth cat can be ridden, but you'd better have insulated pants!

This dragon is saddled and ready for kids to ride.

More slides

Guess who sponsored this one!

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The Johnson Afrt Museum

Japanese garden as seen from the new entrance foyer.

The Johnson Art Museum, at Cornell University, had the grand opening of its new wing Saturday. Being in the area and not having visited it before, I went to see their collection.

I tried to avoid flash, and most of my handheld pictures came out too blurry to use, The museum does have an excellent Asian collection, and I was also very intrigued by some of the cut paper work in the lowest level. Most of my attempts to photograph anything indoors, however, were failures.

The small stones represent the water in the gorge.

While I enjoyed all of the museum, I found myself most drawn to the Japanese garden just off the new entrance. The museum as a whole has a great deal of Asian art, including a new scroll, Three Laughers of the Tiger Glen. To quote from the Museum’s newsletter:

“One day the Daoist priest Lu Xiujing and the Confucian poet Tao Yuanming visited the Buddhist monk Huiyuan, who had become a recluse and vowed never to leave his mountain temple. As they concluded their visit toether, the three friends became so caught up in conversation that Huiyuan inadvertently crossed the bridge over the Tiger Glen, a ravine that formed the boundary of the temple precinct. As soon as they realized what had happened, the men burst into laughter at the absurdity of this transgression. The parable teaches that true wisdom is gained when boundaries of difference are overcome through mutual understanding. ”

Museum Lobby

The scroll shows the three men laughing together at the end of the bridge. But the design of the Japanese garden also follows this story, with three upright rocks for the three men, the cleft in the field of moss for the gorge, and the plank bridge over the cleft.

The opening was well attended, with activities such as brush painting for the children. Too bad more of my pictures didn’t come out better.

Musk Ox Art

Ever heard of musk oxen?

They’re more closely related to goats and sheep than to cattle (though larger) and they’re definitely an Arctic animal, with a luxurious underwool called qiviut under an outer shell of long hair. They have horns that make a helmet over the tops of their heads with wickedly forward-curved, sharp tips, and they’re a daunting sight head-on. Their defense against their traditional predators such as wolves was to gather in a circle, heads out, with the vulnerable calves in the center. However effective against wolves, such a defense was useless against human hunters, and musk oxen were close to extinction when restrictions on hunting, and transplantation, allowed them to bounce back.

Today musk oxen are being farmed for their qiviut, though it is probably going too far to call them domesticated. The best qiviut is allowed to loosen naturally and combed from the animal (with the aid of a holding chute!) and knit by village women—one of the few sources of cash income in remote Alaskan villages. It’s not overrated — I had a nachaq before the fire, and qiviut is an incredibly soft, warm, lightweight fiber.

The animals themselves have not gotten much attention in art – until recently. Our local PBS affiliate, which has a contest every winter for a poster design, had a semi-abstract muskox painting a couple of years ago. And this month there is an exhibit of musk oxen at the Bear Gallery in Fairbanks.

Have you heard of the Painted Ponies?

Lacie Stiewing decided that musk oxen would be just as good as horses for decorating. Better, in fact, and she designed a somewhat abstract musk ox form and decorated copies of the form with abandon. The result is a herd of musk oxen, a few shown here, in the Bear Gallery at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s an exhibit to make you smile, even if small varieties of the critters are not available. Lacie, have you thought about that?

Calypso

Twigs and branches, once reaching for the sky
Now bent and held by iron bands
To the likeness of a horse.
But is this not reality?

Sun’s energy,
Giving life to grass and leaves
Which in turn pass on that life
To the newborn foal.
Bound by the iron of blood
To the growing form—
Feet dancing, tail proud, neck arched.

And in the end
Giving itself back to earth
From which grow the twigs and branches
Reaching for the sky.

©Sue Ann Bowling

“Calypso”, a 2003 sculpture by Tamara Schmidt, greets visitors in the lobby of the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska Campus. The poem was inspired by the sculpture, which is life-sized.

Lots of photos today–I finally got to the Ice Park Friday evening. Sadly, some of my favorites were too blurred to put in, as it got too dark for the available light and my hands weren’t steady enough.

To my surprise, most of the ice is being cut now, and stored in piles of sawdust for sale to other parts of the world and for next year’s sculptors. This is the last of last year’s ice.

They were cutting the ice for next year as we drove by, a little after 8 pm.

Although the ice looks perfectly transparent when it is handed to the carvers, in fact it is made up of multiple crystals. Impurities are concentrated at these crystal boundaries, and when the sun shines on the ice, the boundaries are the first places to melt. Pond ice normally grows down into the pond, so the crystals are long, vertical shapes. The result is that sunshine produces long, vertical “candles” of ice.

Sunshine on the carved ice can produce unexpected patterns within the ice, depending on how the grain boundaries are located relative to the carved surface. I’m not even sure what this sculpture was.

The black background is one of the black tarps they hang to try to keep the sun off of the ice. The patterning on the right side of this sculpture, Moonrise, shows the effect of the sun.

The crispness of some of the carving, even after exposure to the sun, is incredible. This is Horsin’ Around.

Sometimes the ice, warmed by the sun, seems to flow. The harpoon on this harpoon fisherman has bent down with the weight of the harpoon head,just aabove the right shoulder of the harpooner. The sculpture is Harvest Moment.

The sculptors put in an incredible amount of work for something they know will last only a few weeks–if that. This one is Angelic Keepers.

I still don’t know how the carver got the star in the ball. They are only allowed to use ice, water and snow. This sculpture is Autumn.

The white markings are an example of use of a slurry of snow and water–though I suspect it’s a little more complicated than that. This is Mask.

Six of my favorites are missing here, so I’ll give links to their online photos. My photos of Palace PetFreedom and White Silence were just too blurred by camera motion to use. The White Rabbit, Rule of Sabanna and Let it Be collapsed completely or in part before I had a chance to see them.

Added 2012: This post had become very popular, but it is not the only collection of photographs I have taken of Fairbanks ice art, or even the best. Other posts are:
More on Ice Melting
Ice Art Championships 1
Ice Again: Single Block by Daylight 1
Ice Sculpture: Single Block by Daylight 2
More Ice Sculpture: Multi-Block in Progress
Multi-Block Ice Sculpture 1
World Ice Art Championships Multi-Block 2
The Fairbanks Ice Park (Children’s Playground)