Now the competition moves from sculptures built with one 7,800-pound block of ice to the massive multiblock creations built from 10 blocks weighing at least 46,000 pounds. On March 4 the Multi Block competition began. Teams of 3-4 people will be carving sculptures using these ten blocks each measuring 6’ x 4’ x 3’. There are forklifts all over the multi block sites area as the artists direct the drivers where to position their blocks. The artists have until March 9 at 9:00PM to work on and finish their creations. As in Single Block, the two categories are abstract and realistic. The guidelines for judging remain the same also.
One rule I found particularly interesting is Ice Alaska requires freestanding ice sculptures to be sculpted and judged on all sides. This includes the back of the sculpture which will be seen by the judges only. The reason for this is the finished sculptures are transparent and/or clear and spectators will be able to see right through them.
With blocks everywhere, it is hard to imagine everything coming together. Everyone was very hard at work today but I managed to talk with a couple of very gracious carvers who gave me a few minutes. The first was Jeff Meyers at Site 6. He and his team, comprised of three carvers from the United States and one carver from Russia are carving Kabuki Theater: Spirit of the Samurai. From the minute I started talking to Jeff, who continued to work as we chatted, I could sense his enthusiasm for his craft; it was infectious. I asked him why he came to Alaska to carve. “The Ice Art Championship in Fairbanks is the biggest and baddest competition there is,” he said. He also mentioned that the ice here is the very best. This is Jeff’s sixth time at Ice Alaska. I am so excited to see this team’s finished work of art.
At Site 10 I met Ralph “Bud” Lies, a five-year veteran to Ice Alaska. His team of four carvers from Indiana and Michigan are working on The Swing. Ralph told me the sweetest story. The Swing is based on the beloved children’s poem, “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson. “How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue?....” This poem has been loved in his family and has played an important part in his family for three generations. The sculpture’s concept is based on artwork drawn by his ten-year-old grandson and is being carved in memoriam for all those in his family who have passed on. I asked Ralph how he liked the ice here and he smiled and said, “It is the Arctic Diamond.”
I would love to talk with all the carvers and hear their stories as well, but I dare not bother anyone who is so focused and hard at work. Again, I thank Jeff and Ralph for giving me some of their precious time. I wish them, and all the artists here, all the best of luck.