It is day 2 of the Single Block competition and the carvers are all hard at work. The woods hum with the song of the chainsaw. Each team of one to two carvers is working with one block of ice approximately 8’x 5’x 3’. There are two categories in the competition. The first is the Abstract Category in which the primary focus and visual impression of the sculptures are made up of symbolic shapes or forms. The piece may contain some elements that are realistically rendered but these may not be the primary focus of the piece. What matters is the aesthetic appeal. The second category is the Realistic Category. The sculptures must be recognizable objects, either real or imaginary. They may contain some abstract elements but these may not be the primary focus.
At 9:00 PM on March 1st, the horn will blow, signaling the end of the competition. At that time, all carving tools must be put down. The teams then have sixty minutes to make their site pleasing to the public. They rake their sites, adjust their white-lights, remove their tools and scaffolding and install rope barriers. They are not allowed to touch their sculptures or use their tools during this sixty-minute cleanup time. Judging begins at the end of this time. Artists are not allowed to be present at their sculpture site during the judging.
What do the judges look for? At first glance, does the sculpture stand alone as a good sculpture? How new and original is the design? Has the sculptor incorporated new ideas in design, technique, topic or theme to advance the art of ice sculpting? How well does the sculpture make its theme clear to the viewer? Does it evoke an emotional response in the viewer? Does the sculpture show the proper and skillful use of various tools? The judges view the sculpture from all sides and higher scores go to projects that waste the least amount of ice
And that is Ice Art Championships, Single Bock, 101. One of the artists expressed the craft beautifully: “Carving ice can be a tricky thing. The ice doesn’t always do what you expect it to do and there are a lot of different ways to do things, some better than others.”
Come by the Ice Park more than once. Come while the carvers are working, pick your favorites and watch the execution of this amazing art form up close; come during the day, after the judging, to see if your favorites have won and see the beautiful, crystal clear ice in natural light; and come a third time, at night, when the colored lights are illuminating the ice. Then we have the multi block competition to look forward to.