Feb. 4—WATERTOWN — Blocks of snow arranged around the 10th Mountain Division memorial in Thompson Park are being carefully sculpted by frozen artists.
The snow blocks, which turned into near solid ice overnight Friday as temperatures dipped close to 30 below zero, are arranged for the Snowtown USA sculpting competition, which runs through Sunday. Judging begins at noon, and as of Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of work to be done.
Two teams of artists, but only one registered in the competition, were working in the blistering cold. With a white sky as a backdrop, the two sculptures underway blended into their background.
One team, lead by Jerry Merrill of Rodman, isn’t part of the competition, but rather an homage to the late Klaus Ebeling, an art professor at Jefferson Community College who designed a map of 14 snow sculptures chiseled from blocks of snow throughout Watertown during the fist Snowtown in 1985.
Mr. Ebeling, who died in October, remained a sculptor and adviser for snow sculptors for many years after, sharing knowledge that enabled him to compete in nearly 100 national and international sculpting events, in which he won several awards.
Merrill, a longtime friend and fellow snow sculpture, lead a team to recreate Ebeling’s sculpture, “Two People Dancing.”
“We’re doing it for the fun of it,” said Merrill as he worked with two helpers. With saws, and scrapers and other tools for precision snow shaping, two heads emerged atop the seven-ton block of snow frozen stiff from the deep freeze Friday night. “We want to say, ‘hey Klaus, look down on us right now with some love and respect.”
Merrill has traveled the world sculpting snow, winning competitions over the past 35 years. His sculpture in the park isn’t going to be judged, he said.
“This is pretty high-tech art you are looking at,” he said. “This is a great way to make art.”
For competitions sculptures make a model of their planned sculpture. Knowing the size of the block ahead of time they use the model design and scale it up to fit the block.
Merrill had a model of Mr. Ebeling’s two people dancing sculpture, and was working to turn the snow into human forms.
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