Monday, January 12, 2009

The "Freeze" Art Show at a Healthy Ten Below

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaI haven't had much to say about Alaska lately. Probably because I've been pretty disgusted with the whole "winter weather" thing we've got going. Just before Christmas the temperatures plunged to ten or twenty below zero (Celsius or Fahrenheit, it's so cold what does it matter? I've lost the will to keep track) and nothing has budged since then.

They're saying we've broken some kind of a record for consecutive days below zero--which pairs nicely with our coldest summer ever recorded since the Russians decided this place was even too cold for them and unloaded it on the U.S. (I'm exaggerating, but not by much.)

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaWe had lots of outdoor activities planned over the Christmas holiday: sledding, skating, winter camping but something about having it so cold that your eyelids freeze to your eyeballs takes a bit of the fun out of that kind of thing and we've all been holed up inside, waiting for the weather to improve for about three weeks now.

Of course I really shouldn't complain. While Anchorage is enjoying a balmy 20 below the good folks in Wasilla (Chrissy? Are you alive?) are dealing with 50 below and then there's the brave souls in Tok like Aliza Sherman registering 70 below which is pretty much a third of the way to Absolute Zero if I'm not mistaken.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaBut I digress. The Municipality of Anchorage organized a unique art show aptly named "Freeze" which invited designers, artists and architects from around the world to create interactive ice sculptures in downtown Anchorage. Despite my inability to ever stay warm I really, really wanted to see the show so we bundled up and went down there on Saturday to take a peek.

We parked in the middle of the park strip, so we could venture out of the car for ten minute intervals in between running back to warm up.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaAs a side note here: I was wearing four layers including thermals and a down coat, a scarf, Gortex gloves, wool socks and a hat and I still had trouble refraining from a squeal of shock when I stepped out of the car. As we were coming back from the exhibit I passed a man with his little daughter and the child had only a pair of cotton leggings, tennis shoes and a trendy yet impractical winter coat.

No hat, no mittens, nothing. I can only assume the man's brain was frozen in "no thinking" gear and I wanted to give him a shake or two before she got frostbite. This is the kind of cold that is dangerous, not just uncomfortable, and we've had more than one friend get frostbite this season.

But regardless of the locals the exhibit was great--the Port of Anchorage had hauled up chunks of ice out of Cook Inlet (pictured at top on the left) which was interesting because you normally don't get to see them up close in all their layered, twisted beauty.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaOne company had made 400 ice cones by freezing water inside of orange traffic cones. Inside the cones were tiny lights that glowed against the dusky afternoon as the spikes stood scattered across the snow-covered baseball diamond on the park strip.

The most beautiful of the exhibits was a sound mirror that must have been fifteen or sixteen feet high (pictured above on the left) and was built from this gorgeous frosty blue ice that almost looked like it was resin rather than ice. The blocks fit perfectly together to form this giant slab with a concave center so that if you stood on the platform opposite and spoke toward the dish it would reflect your voice back at you.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaThe kids went crazy for the pile of snow balls you see in the upper right. Someone had made millions of them and inside each of the snowballs was a tiny LED light that blinked so that the balls glowed with different colored lights.

Next to one of the piles of snow balls was a giant ice catapult that could fling the snow balls across the park which the boys were begging to try until they got distracted by the crazy ice-labyrinth that was thirty feet across and twelve feet high.

We walked in the narrow entrance and circled around and around until we arrived in the center where it was made into an amphitheater with a fire in the center (you can see it at the very top). Of course the kids then wanted to climb up on top of the walls and walk around to scope out the scenery and even though I was starting to lose feeling in my cheeks and toes I had to admit it was really fun.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaAfter dodging back to the car for a warm-up we tackled the other end of the park strip where there were 60 ice heads stuck on metal poles facing to the south. I suppose that was rather symbolic because about this time every year my thoughts are definitely turned to the south.

Inside each head was also a glowing light, giving it all quite an eerie effect.

But the coolest exhibit (forgive the pun) was at the end where a local contractor and his partner had created this enormous basin of snow, big enough to fit two Cadillacs inside, then filled the whole thing with water and froze the cars in the solid mound of ice.

Freeze Art Show in Anchorage, AlaskaWith steps going up to the top we could walk out onto the ice which was kept clear by the artist's giant blow torch and see the cars encased in the ice. It was really a creepy and an odd sensation to see the cars below probably because--as Andrew and I agreed--the idea of being in your car in icy water is really a terrifying thought.

Years ago, and I don't want to make you uncomfortable with this but you know how some things stick with you? Well there was a case where a Toyota Forerunner crashed on the highway south of Anchorage and went over guard rail into the Inlet and I still remember the news reports talking about how the father inside the car couldn't rescue his child before the car sunk. They never found the vehicle. Very grim, I'm not sure why that story stuck with me but sometimes when I see a Forerunner on the road it reminds me of that and something about the exhibit triggered the memory as well.

I asked the artist what had inspired him to create that particular piece and he said that he'd had a friend who had been traveling in Alaska and while flying in a small plane low over a frozen lake had looked down through the clear ice and just below the surface were two bull moose that had been frozen with their antlers locked together. What an image.

Anyway, the ice was terribly slippery from the blow torch melting the top layer for visibility and the whole thing was very interesting. If you'd like to see the Anchorage Daily News' pictures of the exhibit you can see them at the Freeze art project site and in closing I'll leave you with a video clip of the event--if nothing else it might make you grateful for warmer weather.




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Technorati tags: Anchorage, Alaska, recreation, winter

56 comments:

Kathryn said...

Thanks for posting about this! I heard about it at Church today and I can't wait to go see it! I hope it's still there.

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

So awesome. Awesome enough for me to want to be out in it with you? Not sure. Your voice even seemed to have a shiver in it. I can't imagine being that bundled up and that cold.

It's 29 degrees here (F). Yeah, they're warning of an impending "deep freeze" this week, when the wind chill might "get down into the single digits". I shouldn't mock, since this California girl thinks that is COLD.

Keep warm in your gorgeous remodeled house. :) Let's hope you get a break soon.

Carrie said...

Wow that looks incredible! I would love to see it in person.

Annette Lyon said...

That is seriously cool. Not enough to make me want to experience the freakin insane temperatures to see it, though, so thanks for posting about it. :D

Melissa said...

That sounds so neat! Your description of the weather "up there" makes me appreciate our above-normal temps that I usually hate.

Alison said...

How cool is that! I love that I get to experience this from the comparative warmth of Kansas. The lights inside the ice sound lovely, but I think the cars would give me the creeps :-(

Amber said...

Wow, that is pretty darn cool but the weather is not! It was -30 when I was home in Calgary and we didn't go out at all during that time.

I read a blog "Up in Alaska" about one of your fellow Alaskans who loves to bike in the back-country. In winter. Yep, the chick is a bit crazy. :-)

sarah said...

That is so cool! Wish I lived closer.

Carrie said...

That is a beautiful show- I'm glad you braved the cold & got to see it! The ice blocks were really cool!

Pencil Writer said...

Hmmmm. C O L D. Although Utah born (in it's worst blizzard 60 years ago) and once a lover of all things cold, I simply do NOT tolerate C O L D now. Missouri is C O L D right now. The Mississippi River has frozen over in places. Saw it over the Christmas holidays. This week they're going below the zero mark (again) according to weather prognostications. But your kind of C O L D. I can't imagine. I've live in the DEEP South too long and I get cold when it registers 40 degrees outside. (Sorry I'm such a wimp!)

It was still a great post and very interesting. I pray everyone in C O L D weather survives with all their fingers, toes and noses intact and un-frostbitten. ;-}

angie said...

Sounds like a wonderful exhibit.....and a great outing for the family when it's too darn cold to do just about anything else.

I can't believe how cold it is there (it's supposed to be 82 degrees here today).....and that man with the child.......what was he thinking?
The sesame rolls are definitely bookmarked!

CoconutKate said...

My husband keeps talking about moving to Alaska next year but I'm not sure I can stand freezing...
Hawaii makes me want cooler weather but isn't Alaska a little extreme, can I just have a happy medium? :0)

ewe are here said...

Sounds like a fantastic exhibit, save for the freezing plus temperature.

As for the severely under-dressed little girl you saw, once I got over the horror, I wondered what the dad was wearing... because I'd've reamed him then and there if he was dressed appropriately but couldn't bother to do the same for his wee one

Just Another Hofeling said...

This is the fun stuff I miss about Alaska.

Jenn said...

Riveting! Great post!

Amelia StoryGirl said...

Thanks for allowing us to experience this vicariously! Absolutely beautiful. And now, I think I need a cup of hot chocolate! I hope it warms up for you soon!

The Dunns said...

That sounds awesome! About as awesome as 10 below sounds... we're almost there!

chelle said...

brrrrr ok I will not complain that it is too cold here anymore.

Bummer about the lack of winter activities. That is what makes the cold worth it. May you have warmer winter weather soon!

Jill in MA said...

Thank you for posting this. The photos and descriptions are seriously amazing.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oh, lord, going off a bridge into water with kids in the car is my ultimate fear. I can barely stand to drive across the things anymore.

Anji Gallanos said...

I read about this exhibit and it looked wonderful. Too bad we won't get to Anchorage to see it..we're dealing with our own mess of yuck in Juneau. Brrrr for you and stay warm. Glad you got out to see Freeze.

Amy said...

Wow, this is the greatest post. I was reading it out loud to my roommate and I am going to go tell everybody to put on some extra layers and head down to see that, thanks so much.

Heather said...

Well, I guess it's good to make the best of the frigid weather...but now I'm all cold from watching that video. Not that it's much warmer here.

Brandi said...

very cool! No pun intended!

Maddy said...

What an image indeed and I love the LEDs inside the snowballs. Snow and cold are so much fun from a distance. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go outside and attend to the sprinklers as we've had a bit of a dry spell but I'll need to slap on a little sunscreen as it would be awful to have my freckles appear prematurely in the 72 degree sunshine!
Cheers

poppy fields said...

Cool! :)

M said...

What a beautiful exhibit!

Thanks for stopping by the other day. I keep looking at that photo of myself in "skinny jeans" and my Uggs going, "I am SO going to have to defend that outfit in 20 years!" (I feel compelled to snip some clips from Glamour or something so I can prove people really did wear small jeans and chunky boots together.)

Sending you *warm* wishes!

Heather said...

Wow!....... the snow balls are my favorite, the lights inside are super cool..... my son would LOVE them. All the same I am glad I'm looking at this from INSIDE, a little farther south..... eek! those temperatures......

Chrissy Johnson said...

Ha! Oh yes, I'm still here! But I'm staying with friends in Palmer, darling, not Wasilla. Though the Target has called my name a time or two during the deep freeze. I work in Anchorage during the day, but man oh man this past week has solidifed the fact that we are getting a place in Eagle River or closer as soon as we can. -28 and windy in the valley? Thanks but no thanks!

We enjoyed the freeze show, too. Xander loved the heads.

Sandy said...

Looks like a show worth risking some frostbite for! Down here in Minnesota, we're also hoping for temps to go above zero at some point.

Meh.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow, that's a pretty awesome and beautiful way to deal with COLD weather.

It's 73 (above) here. Don't kill me.

I know what you mean about some stories sticking with you, as much as you wish they wouldn't. That car sculpture would have made me think of the same thing.

Edna said...

Oh wow! We live in the desert and our cold winter means we've dipped barely below freezing a couple of weeks at night. It makes me shiver just to look at the pictures! It would be fun to see if I could walk around wrapped in an electric blanket and a long extension cord!

AlaneM said...

Not to be punny but that is cool in every respect! I'd love to see it but without the extreme cold temps - birrr.

Melissa-Mc said...

I am such a wimp in cold weather! I remember our Freshman year I walked to the testing center with Angel and Laurie. It took us 1 hour. We would run to a building and get warm for 10 minutes, then run to the next building, etc, etc until we finally got there. Keep warm!

kawaii crafter said...

would love to see this in person but it will never happen. I could never handle the cold weather. California has made me weak.

glograbear@gmail.com said...

I got frost bitten feet here as a missonary in Jan.1975. For a Texan below zero was brrr!! Snow is as high as it was then

Daisy said...

Oh, that Cadillac piece is eerie! We may get mucho wind chills (again) this week. We teachers are hoping for a "windchill" type of snow day! Then again, we're not. I have too much in my planning book this week.

Summer said...

That would be very cool to see. But I wouldn't trade my 35 degree weather for your weather for any amount of money. :)

Barrie said...

I will never complain about the weather in San Diego again. Never. The freeze aren't looked very cool (pun intended)!

Marketing Mama said...

Michelle, that was really cool. Thanks for showing us this interesting art show! I liked your comments about it, but the video really brought it to life! Thanks again.

SarahHub said...

This looks amazing! Very, very cold, but still amazing. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I've been very lax at blog commenting lately, Michelle, but this post pulled me out of the woodwork. (Plus, I'm trying to get my blog legs back.) What a FUN summary of a really neat exhibit. Talk about making (frozen) lemonade out of (frozen) lemons. Nicely done, Alaska.

I wonder if it would travel to St. Paul for our Winter Carnival, which is later in January? We're not Wassila, but our high tomorrow is -2. Not too shabby.

Stephanie said...

You are one brave soul. I don't even like the Chicago cold.

Becky said...

Aha. The origination of our cold spell. Almost like you came down for a visit!

Sonja said...

Ok, I know what you mean about people letting their kids dress all trendy and NOT practically. tsk, tsk. Drives me crazy.
(Of course, if my daughters had their way...they'd be wearing flip flops)

What a strange and beautiful image those moose must have been.

Hope you are enjoying a good book and a warm mug of cocoa right now. :)

Barrie said...

Freeze ART, not aren't. You people must think I can't string two words together!!

Laurel Nelson said...

Hey now Michelle - you neglected to mention that it has now warmed back up to reasonable temperatures! It was in the teens this morning when I drove to work! I haven't been to see that yet, but I do walk by it every morning and evening to and from work since I work downtown, and it does look pretty interesting. Good to finally know what the heck they were up to for the past few weeks!

Lis Garrett said...

And this is why we are pursuing life in Arizona. We think Upstate New York is cold in winter, but there's absolutely no way I'd be able to survive in Alaska.

What a beautiful exhibit, though.

Hairline Fracture said...

This Texas girl can't even imagine that kind of cold. The exhibit is cool, though.

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I was feeling like quite the wuss for spending the last week or so in the house, since surely it's colder in Alaska than South Dakota, right? I checked out weather.com and apparently you're enjoying highs in the 20s, even with the wind chill today. I feel better now. The high in Sioux Falls today is 1°F with wind chills at -20°F.

I'm crawling back under my covers now.

P.S. Glad you got out to see the ice show--it looks amazing!

Twinsmom said...

What an amazing exhibit! Thanks for sharing it. It looks like a kid's winter dream world with the snowballs and maze and catapult. My kids would love it too, but considering here in Ohio we cancel school for below-0 weather, we probably would have a problem with even 10 minutes in those temperatures! Not that we're wimps or anything......

Organizing Mommy said...

Now I'm convinced that the colder the weather, the crazier people are.

Janet said...

That looks like huge fun. What a creative way to use your resources - snow and ice!

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

there is this city in china, Harbin - oh my stars - just gorgeous- it is built from snow and ice - if you ever go to visit china- this is a must see (as long as it is winter)

A Happy Heart Blog said...

First, I love the Vimeo video set up - how do you like this compared to other video blog publishers? It would truly be very weird walking above cars that were frozen below you and I can certainly relate to the negative degree weather. Really fun post Michelle :)

Chrissy Johnson said...

I kept meaning to comment on this back when you posted it. Wasn't this fun? It was really sad when all the heads slid down their poles during the warm temperatures. Reminded me of Vlad the Impaler!